I was interested to read the alleged remarks of Spain’s monarch, King Juan Carlos, when back in 1983 he stated that his country didn’t really want Gibraltar as it would lead to Morocco demanding both Ceuta and Melilla.
Since then of course Morocco has toughened its stance on the Spanish enclaves. Rabat now considers them as integral parts of the Moroccan nation using similar language to Spain over Gibraltar. The Moroccan Government stamps its foot when Spanish Royals or major political figures visit Ceuta or Melilla just as Madrid would if UK Royals or say the Prime Minister should come here. The only difference is that Spain totally ignores Moroccan protests whilst the Foreign Office shakes in fear.
Gibraltar Español is a hangover from Franco’s day. The Partido Popular and the Francoists in its midst clasp it to their hearts. PSOE and other parties do to an extent but rather from fear of being dubbed unpatriotic by the PP if they don’t rather than out of any real conviction.
Gibraltar Español is a key stone of the current Spanish Government’s foreign and indeed domestic policy. But why? One has to assume that Rajoy and Margallo are not stupid (but I could be wrong here) and when the UK and Gibraltar Governments say “no surrender” they know we mean just that.
Surely this is understood in Madrid or is it?
Now if we take the Spanish King at his 1983 word: is all the huff and puff from the Partido Popular Government in Madrid no more than that? Do Rajoy and Margallo really know they won’t get Gibraltar back but believe they have to pretend they want it, even if they really don’t?
It is certainly true that if Gibraltar became Spanish, which it won’t, but if it did then the call for the handing over of Ceuta and Melilla to Morocco would be deafening.
I had always presumed that Gibraltar would have been Spain’s bargaining chip back in the days when Governments decided people fates and not the people themselves. However thankfully the world has since moved on and Gibraltar cannot be traded in exchange for Ceuta and Melilla as it may have been then in the interests of some geopolitics.
Another question is would Madrid be happy to win back a small Rock and let go of Ceuta and Melilla, which cover far larger areas and are two integral provinces in the Spanish nation? The people are Spaniards and have MPs in Madrid. It seems unlikely even if it was possible, which it isn’t.
So what is going on in Madrid’s current stance on Gibraltar? Is it all grand standing in the sure knowledge that the Rock will always be Gibraltarian if not British for ever? Is it a diversion against the problems being faced by the Spanish? If that is the case the diversion has led up a dead end street? Rajoy and Margallo may be idiots but the Spanish people are not. Is it a warning to Cataluña over what could happen there if it breaks from Spain? Why is Spain using clearly illegal methods under EU and international law to try and crack the Gibraltar nut: attempts it knows are doomed to failure?
Who knows? I certainly don’t but perhaps 30 years on from his first utterances on the matter the Spanish King could kindly tell us.