BRITAIN’S rule over Gibraltar is in danger as Spain seek revenge over Brexit and have their eyes set on their long term goal of winning control of the rock.
In the chaos since the UK voted to leave the EU, Spain are pushing hard for their own rights over Gibraltar.
This has been increased by increased nationalism in Spanish politics and parties in the upcoming elections at the end of April will see a firm stance on Gibraltar being a vote winner.
For Spaniards it is a sore point.
“We want it back under Spain and the fact it isn’t is down to the incompetence of our politicians,” tweeted one.
Another wrote: “Anyone with a brain would want what is ours back. It is a key geographical and economic point.”
While the rock has been held by Britain since 1713, Spain have long said it is rightly theirs and claim the UK hold it as a colony.
Spain have already been doing groundwork during the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU to stake their right to Gibraltar.
Prime minister Pedro Sanchez returned to Spain last autumn with a final say on the EU deal after talks with the UK, and so he can veto it if their Gibraltar demands are not met.
In the eyes of the Spanish, they were pushed hard to meet demands when they wanted to join the European community by one country: the UK.
This was over Gibraltar.
Spain had to open the borders with Gibraltar which had been closed under the dictator Franco.
It meant that Gibraltar had access to Spain and it was allowed to become a very wealthy fiscal paradise, while bordering one of the poorest parts of Spain.
Now Spain is waiting to play what it considers to be a winning hand.
In EU talks over visas and freedom of movement, Spain had a reference to Gibraltar as a “colony” drawn up.
Spain foreign minister, Josep Borrell, claimed a breakthrough saying: “For the first time an EU document clearly has it that Gibraltar is a colony, that has never been done before”.
While the EU Parliament rejected the “colony” inclusion from Spain last Wednesday, the Spaniards are still pushing for a brutal deal that would put pressure on the UK to hand over Gibraltar.
Spain’s stance has been slammed by other EU countries with Czech MEP, Petr Jezek saying they are “playing with fire”.
For Spain, playing hardball over Gibraltar will be seen as a vote winner as they go into elections.
A wave of nationalism has swept across Europe, including Spain, with a new far right political party Vox entering the fray, and the political parties will want to appeal to it.
Ominously for the UK’s grasp on Gibraltar, Spain feel they have everything to gain in negotiations over the rock.