First Post-Brexit Tremors: Theresa May "Would Go To War" To Protect Gibraltar

Tyler Durden's picture

The ink has yet to dry on Theresa May's Article 50 signature from last week which officially started the UK's 2-year long divorce from the EU, and already Europe has been traumatized by comments from former Conservative leader Michael Howard, who suggested that Theresa May is be prepared to go to war to protect Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher once did for the Falklands, comments which according to the Guardian were "immediately criticized as inflammatory."

Howard told Sky News on Sunday that: "There is no question whatever that our Government will stand by Gibraltar... 35 years ago this week another woman Prime Minister sent a task force half way across the World to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country.... I am absolutely certain our current Prime Minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar."

As The Telegraph adds, Howard said the British Government will stand by Gibraltar during Brexit talks amid claims of an EU “land grab” for the territory by Spain. It came as Spain confirmed that it would not initially block an independent Scotland's attempts to join the European Union (EU). Alfonso Dastis, Madrid's foreign minister, reportedly said Spain would not veto an independent Scotland's EU hopes - while stressing he does not want to see the country leave the United Kingdom.

Aerial view of Gibraltar

A European Council document on Friday suggested that Spain will be given an effective veto on whether the Brexit deal applies to Gibraltar. Downing Street said May had called Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, on Sunday morning to say the UK remained “steadfastly committed to our support for Gibraltar, its people and its economy”.

Taking British officials by surprise, the draft guidelines drawn up by EU leaders state that the Brexit deal will not apply to Gibraltar without an "agreement between the kingdom of Spain and the UK".  One official told The Telegraph it is "absolutely unacceptable" and gives Spain too much power over the future of Gibraltar.

In response, on Sunday the Prime Minister told Gibraltar's chief minister that Britain will never allow Spain to take over the peninsula against its will. Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary,  has also pledged to "protect" Gibraltar "all the way". Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Fallon said: "The people of Gibraltar have made it clear that they don't want to live under the sovereignty of Spain. Gibraltar is going to be protected all the way."

"The Rock", a British Overseas Territory since 1713 with 30,000 residents, remains a major source of diplomatic tensions. Gibraltar's chief minister has warned the territory should not be used by Spain as a bargaining chip for Britain’s Brexit negotiations.

Fabian Picardo told the BBC this morning  that sharing sovereignty with Spain would be "absolutely awful" and  comparable to "living in somebody else’s land."


He said he was "working closely with the British Government" and he would support the British Prime Minister in the upcoming negotiations to get the best deal.


"I am sure the UK will be batting for Gibraltar," he said. "Gibraltar is not on the table as a chip".

On Sunday, May told Mr Picardo that the UK is  "absolutely dedicated to working with Gibraltar for the best possible outcome  on Brexit", Downing Street said. Quoted by The Telegraph, a May spokeswoman said Mrs May "reiterated our long-standing position that the UK remains steadfastly committed to our support for Gibraltar, its people and its economy".

"The Prime Minister said we will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes, nor will we ever enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content."


"The Prime Minister said we remain absolutely dedicated to working with Gibraltar for the best possible outcome on Brexit and will continue to involve them fully in the process."


Last night Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that the UK’s support for Gibraltar will remain “implacable and rock-like”.

Elsehwere, when asked about the controversy surrounding May’s apparent threat to weaken security cooperation if Brexit talks turn sour, Defense Secretary Fallon said the negotiations had to cover both a trade deal and issues such as counter-terrorism and police cooperation. “It is very important to link trade and security because what we are now looking for is a deep and special relationship that covers both economic and security cooperation. Those two things go together,” he said.

“It is very important that we go on committed to the security of the continent.”


Fallon then talked about sending 800 troops to Estonia, others to Poland, and RAF Typhoons to Romania, which are all under Britain’s Nato commitments not linked to EU membership. “We are stepping up security because it remains our continent and this is a very uncertain time for Europe and right we should be playing our time on that. We’d all be worse off if there wasn’t a deal – we are expecting to have a deal.”


The defence secretary admitted some issues were inside the European treaties, and others (including Nato) not. “The letter refers to our ambition to have a completely new partnership on the economic side but also on security side,” he said, arguing that stating a fact about defence capabilities wasn’t a threat.

Meanwhile, the reaction in Gibraltar to the latest territorial posturing was quick. According to the UK's, the newspaper spoke to a host of Gibraltarians who are all adamant about one thing: there is nothing anyone could do to undermine their sovereignty as a proud nation: "one thing is very clear - people in Gibraltar are happy for Britain’s support, but said they can handle this on their own."

Justine Rovegno said: “I think Gibraltar would be more prepared to relocate its entire population before we would let Spain take-over, we are an extremely stubborn community!”

Manuel Gracia added: “If Spain takes military action we'd stand our ground and I’m sure we’ll be helped by the UK."  “If the EU cuts Gibraltar out of any deals and trade like I said Gib will stand it's ground and look to other opportunities. "

“As far as I'm aware there's always been talk of Spain ‘taking Gib back’ with force, politics and pretty much every way you can think of.  None of it has worked so far and I find it doubtful that it'll come to that. There will be tensions. There will be arguments but that's what it's always been like.”

Danielle Barclay took a more blunt stance, referring to the actions of Spain and Donald Tusk as being: “F****** disgusting and inhumane.”

As Express adds, "the population of Gibraltar seems relatively unfazed by the prospect of a Spanish invasion, EU strong arming and political scheming and are confident they have seen it all before and will come out of this stronger - as they always have."

But there is an ominous sense of dread about what is to come, as Justine said: “I think the Gibraltarian community has survived very dark times because of Spain, I think most of them believe they have gone through the worst, and Spain going about this in such an intimidating way is just fuelling a fire that was lit many years ago.


“I felt that the younger community was learning that there was not a giant brick wall between Gibraltar and the Spanish, but I think the angst they are creating is slowly putting those thoughts back into everyone's minds which is extremely sad.”

Not even one full week into Brexit, and nationalistic tensions - the continent's soft spot - across Europe are once again rising, this time not the direct result of Europe's refugee troubles. The good news: for now it is being handled diplomatically. The bad news: as the following chart from Goldman shows, the Brexit process is just beginning, and the potential for political and economic complications will only eventually be fully appreciated.


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More_sellers_than_buyers's picture

Brit Bob is gonna lose his shit haha

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Does anyone else get the feeling just about everyone (meaning country) out there is itching for war?

Haus-Targaryen's picture

I saw a YouTube video once, it showed 1,000 years of European borders.  Guess what ... they change constantly. 

Anyone who believes that borders in Europe are the way they are and will never change suffer from a diagnosed yet severe mental illness.  Maybe one day when scientists get around to figuring this out, as opposed to how earthquakes are a result of global warming, and the answer is for everyone to pay more in taxes, and multiculturalism. 

When the current financial system fails European borders will be changing all over the place.  Old scores will get settled, payback will be dished out and new grudges will be born. 

What is guaranteed is the borders as they appear today will not be the same borders in 20 years.  

If Spain wants The Rock, it needs to get ready to deal with what is left of the British Navy -- its just that simple. 

Looking forward to Hungary and Romania finally getting to fuck after 80 years of built-up tension between the two. 

My bet is in Hungary. 

cossack55's picture

Give The Rock to the Russians

tmosley's picture

Rightfully so. Were I in charge in Britain, I would communicate the fact that Gibraltar was British clay to Brussels, and that any attempt to seize it would result in immediate nuclear retaliation.

Yielding strategic control of the Mediterranean to the insane Eurocrats would be the greatest military blunder of the 21st century.

Mikeyy's picture

I can no longer tell what is satire or what is real opinion.  Like tmosley.  You are kidding, right?  


And Theresa May.  Is she really saying she'd go to war with Spain over Gibraltar?  I mean, that's gotta be a joke, right?

Dugald's picture


Give it to the Chinese, they know how to properly fortify it....

Ownership of Gibralter makes a farce of the Spratlys etc

Spain can't go to war, far too many Brit residents and infiltators, just a wild thought, the British Home Guard in Spain, Dad's Army con aroth cubana....yers, think I need a Bex, a cup of tea and a good lie down..!!!

angle-asshole identity's picture

You mean the old age pensioners leeching the Spanish Health Service? Well, they're already an arrogant burden and a pain in the ass. They'd be rounded up and sent to Argentina.

Dugald's picture


When I lived in London I was surprised by the number of Spanish I met in the coffee bars where Flamenco was popular, who just bludged on welfare.....

iwalkonwater's picture

Let's get those Harrier Jump Jets out again. They were cool and they could bomb the shit out of Juncker and his mob in one day.

Déjà view's picture

Bessarabia reunites with Romania much more likely...

bob_bichen's picture
bob_bichen (not verified) Déjà view Apr 2, 2017 2:46 PM

And will Slovenia and Slavonia ever work it out?

BarkingCat's picture


The might be next to.each other on some list but certainly not their borders.

Teja's picture

Agreeing with you, for once. In our lifetime, there will be another wave of border changes in Europe. Hopefully not too many bloody ones. Only with the last sentence "My bet is in Hungary", I rather disagree. Alliance-wise, and geographically, Romania is in a stronger position.

Haus-Targaryen's picture

As extreme as I am, I can almost always find common ground with anyone on odd-ball issues such as this. 

thisandthat's picture

The problem for Spain is that Gibraltar might just open a can of worms for its own territorial integrity, with not one, but two claims againt it.

One over Olivença, by Portugal:

Olivença was occupied by Spain in 1801, in what became known as the "War of the Oranges" (nothing to do with the Dutch royal family...:, and was to be returned to Portugal as per the Treaty of Vienna, of 1815, which never happened. So, like Crimea until the last referendum and returning to Russia, although de jure a Portuguese territory, de facto remains under Spanish rule and in a legal limbo: say a crime was commited against the Spanish state, in the territory, and the perps escaped to the Portuguese side; it would be virtually impossible to trial them, as Spanish sovereignty over the territory is null and void, under Portuguese law.

The other, over Ceuta (just across from Gibraltar, incidentally), Melilla and a host of tiny territories, by Morocco:

Ceuta became Portuguese in 1415, and chose to remain with Spain after Portugal regained independence in 1640; Melilla and the other territories are the last remnants of the Spanish Empire, over which Morocco never ceased to claim sovereignty, including by (symbolic) occupation.


Ghordius's picture

guess what, yes, borders in Europe change constantly

no. woar is not necessary, in this. the one point you seem to miss, in all that

no war was necessary for the re-unification of Germany, no war was necessary for the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia, and so on

meanwhile, I note that you confuse war with sex: "Looking forward to Hungary and Romania finally getting to fuckafter 80 years of built-up tension between the two."

you live here... but you pray for war, here. why a war between Hungary and Romania (completely OT, completely out of the blue) would cause you a hard-on it's really beyond me. why "we europeans are letting you down" by refraining to have moar great woars here, is really beyond me

thanks, but no, thanks. take your war-lust somewhere else. this is a place that wants to give you the chance to raise your children without having to send them to another war. perhaps you should start to consider if you feel really at home, in Germany specifically and on this continent in general, Mr. "War is Sex" "I bet on Woar" Haus-Targaryen

tell me, Haus, which god do you pray to, when you pray for war?

Haus-Targaryen's picture


Europeans don't let me down for not fighting one another.  Shoot, I like the continent better when people aren't shooting at one another. 

"Europeans" let me down constantly believing in completely insane and unrealistic things, like:

- The European borders as they are shall remain this way forever

- We Europeans are one people

- Sacrificing national identity is the only way to prevent war in the future

- "Europeans" have risen above war and violence to solve their problems. 

These kinds of things are just repulsive, yet are each a cornerstone of contemporary intra-European/Europeans foreign politics.

As George Friedman from Stratfor said, "Europeans will return to humanity, they will have their wars, they will have their peace, they will live their lives." 

I anxiously await for "Europeans" to "return to humanity" and abandon this authoritarian utopia they are trying to construct. 

Here is a song that describes perfectly how "European" politicians and a good chunk of each population really see the world:


Ghordius's picture

"We Europeans are one people"?

never heard that one here in Europe. nor did I ever witness that "sacrifice of the national identity"

even in the UK, there is a Scottish Nation, an English Nation, a Welsh Nation, etc. (see the sports teams, for criminy)

we are Peoples, plural. The Gibraltarian People, the English People, the Scottish People, etc. etc.

you have identity issues. don't project your issues unto us

Gibraltarians, for example, clearly have three identities which they embrace: a Gibraltarian, a British and an European. what they do not embrace is a Spanish identity. see referenda results

Scots, another example, have a Scottish, a British and an European identity, and are very fine with the first and third, while thinking hard about the second. see referenda results

"The European borders as they are shall remain this way forever"

you write this after me starting a list of how many borders we changed? without resorting to war?

Haus-Targaryen's picture

Everytime you deny there is a concerted effort by those in the EU and most EU-member state national governments to do away with the nation state in favor of a more power and centralized EU, you make yourself look foolish.  

There is no "European" identity, quit trying to create one. 

Ghordius's picture

I never denied the presence of our European Federalists. or what we ought to call European Unionists. or us, what I would call Nationalists Willing To Share/Care about European Things, aka proponents of a Confederation of European Sovereigns (which is more or less the current setup, note)

meanwhile, they do have an European Identity, and are not the only ones. we have that too, next to our national identity

so in a way you point at them, the "most fervent" Europeans... but you claim at the same time that they do not have an identity

that's perhaps the problem, here. most Europeans in Europe have choices among strong, clear identities. like Danish, or Finnish. and have no problem with multiple identities, like a Scot that feels Scottish, British and European

meanwhile, there are people elsewhere and from elsewhere that face difficult choices among weak, unclear identities

and... they project

Joe A's picture

War was necessary to blow up Yugoslavia though....

Ghordius's picture

you could be excused, if you were reading only the jingoistic right-wing press in Britain (or the end of this article) into thinking that the newest development were about Spain being aggressive and hostile versus Gibraltar

no, it is not this way. the newest developments are:

- a senior member of the Tory party of the UK speaking as if it was about protecting Gibraltar from a military invasion from Spain, something that is causing a huge political backlash in the UK

- Spain's government noting that they are dropping the veto on any re-admission of Scotland into the EU, which they used to warn about because of the independence movement of Catalonia

note in this that the situation could be summarized in flags and land and movements:

1. Spain would be fine if a Spanish flag would fly over Gibraltar... next to the British one. one of their offers is co-sovereignty, a model that worked well with France when it was about Andorra. the end result for Andorra was a "pretend" co-sovereignty of both France and Spain over that territory, and a de-facto sovereignty for Andorra. yes, we have very small sovereign countries, here in Europe

2. the question if a EU flag flies over Gibraltar is not a Gibraltarian one: Gibraltarians themselves, staunch Brits all of them, voted at the tune of 96% to remain in the EU. you have to distinguish the Gibraltarian position from the British and the Spanish, because it is different from both others

3. there are two territories in dispute. one is Gibraltar "proper", the other one is where the airport is placed, which Spain considers a "land grab" that is not even part of the original treaties

and no, even that started with a Spanish concession: in 1815, a yellow fewer epidemic was breaking out in Gibraltar, and they asked Spain to give them a bit more land for a quarantine camp. they just forgot to give that land back, and later built an airport on it

going forward, though, the facts lie a bit differently

4. the status of Gibraltar is that of a detached part of the UK (overseas possession), with it's own regulations. this is compatible with the EU... as long as the UK is a member of the EU. as soon as the UK is not, Gibraltar does not have those special rights, from the perspective of the EU's treaties

5. from the Spanish point of view, this is the moment to put their 250-years old (and the newer ones, too) griviances on the diplomatic table, specifically on Michel Barnier's table to be discussed with the UK in the first phase, which I dub "trying to find out what the UK really, really wants". no, I do not see the Brits having a clear idea yet, on that. nobody does

knukles's picture

Of course.
The classic distraction

waspwench's picture

I don't think Spain has much in the way of army/navy/airforce.   The EU is itching to get it's own army but they haven't got one yet, and even if they do it will be incredibly inefficient and entangled in red-tape, just like everything else to do with the EU.   Finally, the Gibralterian population would be very hostile and there is only a fairly short land border to defend.   May should immediately arm the population on the Rock.

I would think that we could, once again, "singe the King of Spain's beard."

If some or all of the EU countries  supported Spain against the UK then I imagine that our exit from the EU would be harder and faster and we would not be paying any kind of an exit fee so overall things are looking better and better.   :)

More importantly, however, this demonstrates why the EU cannot succeed.   The Brexit process can be hi-jacked by any one of 27 countries.   Indeed, just about anything can be hi-jacked by any one of 27 countries.   The EU is a ramshackle, cumbersome, inefficient, bureaucracy ridden organization which has only one talent:  spending other people's money.   In every other regard it is dysfunctional.

BarkingCat's picture

Britain arm the peasants..LOL

The same Britain that outlawed pointy kitchen knives???


Dugald's picture


Imagine an EU Army, all wearing the same sized boots, same sized Beret, massive headache there fitting the French with their big heads....Hi!!

thisandthat's picture

I think it's the british that, other than nuclear subs (the ones that shoot missiles the wrong way...), doesn't have much of a navy; air force, maybe, but who'd have the upper hand, if any, in such a dispute, is a question mark.

dizzyfingers's picture

For the first time I'm seriously afraid that USA will start nuclear war. 

But forget that... here's a fun title:

angle-asshole identity's picture

The month of March and springtime in general is traditionally the time for war.

Zepper's picture

ITs the way the government can remain in power and at the same time kill of angry white men.

Koba the Dread's picture

No, Cog, I don't get the feeling just about everyone (meaning country) out there is itching for war. What is happening (or has happened) is that the banking system that Rockefeller and other internationalists set up in 1912 and its many daughters has reached explosion/implosion terminal stage. What is also happening is that the one world movement starting when Rockefeller sent Leon Trotsky from his home on the Standard Oil of New Jersey property to Russia with a hundred thousand dollars in his pocket has also reached explosion/implosion terminal stage. The fruits of a hundred years of work are all going bad and the powers-that-be are dumbfounded, speechless, without a clue about how to put this humpty-dumpty together again.

When the weak are made fools of by reality, they want to fight. Fighting has always worked in the past. Cull the herd, jetty excess product, create new opportunity for growth by destroying all that has already been grown. War is a natural.

However, now there is that niggling little fact that war likely means WAR! and WAR! likely means Armageddon. What to do? What to do? While everybody may be itching for a war intellectually, everybody also knows that war means WAR! No matter how nice your subterranean shelter is, wouldn't you really rather be in Palm Beach. This is a lot of theater by wise men who know better. In addition, most of the fools who in the past whould be itching for war don't want it at all. Most of them seem quite intrigued by the idea of high speed trains running from Pusan to John o' Groats.

Buck Johnson's picture

I mosts certainly do and there is a reason.  They can use war, any war to hide or pass laws that they normally couldn't do.  Blame the war when the economy goes under, blame the country your at war with.  Pass laws to stop or send back immigrants because of security issues (EU), etc. etc. etc..  They want war but their problem is how can they have a World War and yet have it limited enough where no nukes are used.



Shemp 4 Victory's picture

Attention BritBob - Gibraltar has always belonged to Argentina.

Wile-E-Coyote's picture

Thatcher was aware there was oil around the Falklands back in 82, go figure. Mind you why do you think the Argies want it back?

Two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers to patrol the South Atlantic once the oil goes online should deter the Argies from doing something stupid.

Michael Bay's picture
Michael Bay (not verified) Wile-E-Coyote Apr 2, 2017 12:46 PM

Anti-shipping missiles progressed so much more than carriers in the years that have passed. Consider that not exactly cutting edge Exocet was enough once, and extrapolate.

Mr.Danglemeat's picture

Exactly, and now they don't hit the side at waterline, the chinks have one that "pops up" just before impact and under power, accelerates straight down through the deck. The Ka-Boom goes off inside and blows the keel off. sinky, sinky.

Sirius Wonderblast's picture

But, but... we're buying those spiffing new F35B's to operate from them, so what could there possibly be to worry about?


MaskOfZero's picture

Extrapolate all you want--ignorance in yields ignorance out.

In the Falklands war, the Argentine mainland was not bombed, nor were their ports destroyed.

If the Argies start a war again, the British won't be so gentlemanly as previously.

A few Astute class submarines are all that is needed to destroy the Argentine military, ports, and cities--and of course, economy.

This will be done with covert or overt US help depending upon the circumstances, and there will be nothing the Argies can do to prevent it.

And yes, despite the erroneous beliefs of armchair generals, the F-35B is an excellent aircraft which will cut through Argentine defenses like a hot knife through butter.

If the Argies start a war--it won't be because they are pining for the Islas Malvinas, but rather, because another dictator wishes to distract the fickle Argentine public with a foreign war in order to obtain ephemeral national unity in the face of economic and political stagnation caused by a culture of corruption.


BarkingCat's picture

Because your supply lines are so short.

I hope that Russia sells enough hardware to Argentina that next time the Brit navy functions as seed for some new reefs.

ShakenNotStirred's picture

I am not interested in takind any particular side, but remember... the argies sank several state-of-art destroyers with 50y/o Skyhawks.


Killdo's picture

I was in Argentina a couple of months ago - they seemed much happier and far less corrupt than we are here in the USSA. 

I did not see any poverty - unlike here in San Francisco

Sirius Wonderblast's picture

If the F35B is so very damn good, why is it far from operational and the Navy never wanted it.

Answer 1) - it's a committee horse, cobbled together in a craphole of a procurement farce (a tendency we Brits and you Yanks obviously share, to our joint detriment).

Answer 2) because the Navy wanted through-deck carriers, not ski ramp, and it wanted cat-and-trap. This was to fly long-range aircraft (yes, F35C if needs be) tankers and AWACS so as to put aloft and keep aloft a long range screen around the carrier group. Not a short range, short duration scramble to try and stop something once you finally detect it. Think about the time to target at supercruise, and think whether there's much point having the F35B.

As a senior officer, directly involved in the design and construction of the QE class carriers, said to me, "Where the cat and traps should have gone, Jack has got two large rooms to stow beer". On behalf of the Navy he fougth against F35B and the ski ramps, and was outvoted by MoD and Treasury, who do not have to sail and fly from the things.

A JV cock-up brought to you by MoD Abbeywood and the Treasury.

Of course, it will be possible to retrofit the cat and traps, and remove the ramp, at no doubt exhorbitant cost to the taxpayer/profit to BAE Systems.

ShakenNotStirred's picture

After all these years, where is the oil?

The Brits went all the way to the other side, and still no oil.