Britain Dislodged Over the Rock
Spain’s pristine new motorway network has transformed driving within the country into a generally smooth, open-ended, go-anywhere-you-please experience.
But that impression comes to a rude halt when, after exiting the main road, Gibraltar eventually looms into sight. Then you come face to face with Britain’s greatest natural fortress, the historically much-fought-over Rock—inescapable at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula.
For Spain, its presence is a reminder that won’t go away.
That fact perhaps explains why, earlier, speeding along the south coast towards the controversial Rock, Trumpet contributor Daniel Frendo and I didn’t spot one signpost saying Gibraltar—as though it had been taken off the map! In fact, the towns signposted suddenly jumped from La Línea to San Roque, ignoring Gibraltar altogether.
Surely the object of this vanishing act isn’t a vain attempt to remove the Rock from the public consciousness completely, but rather to numb, slightly, the consciousness that it still hasn’t returned to Spanish hands. It seems the Spanish attempt to bypass Gibraltar with one eye closed and blinkers on to avoid deep-rooted feelings of envy and anger.
Certainly, an overriding desire to boot the British out of Gibraltar pervades in many a Spaniard’s consciousness. A few careless comments in a public place can excite contentious opposition. How niggled they are by the pink-skinned people, descendants of the kingdom which provoked the beginning of the end of Spain’s Golden Age. Raiders who gate-crashed their way onto a corner of a strip of the Iberian homeland and, like an elusive stone in a shoe, won’t go away.
Each time Spain fails to recover Gibraltar is another wounding blow to its sensitive national pride.
Frankly, such sentiments are understandable. How would the British feel if Spain had been sovereign owner of the White Cliffs of Dover for over 300 years?
Gibraltar is a symbol of the confrontation of two great nations at loggerheads and the turn in their fortunes. One empire was fading fast, while its greatest enemy was starting the climb toward incredible blessings, wealth and power, the likes of which had never been seen before.
Back in 1967, eight years before his death, General Francisco Franco expressed his nation’s posture with resounding clarity—a position that remains unchanged. While Spaniards may disagree widely on most important political issues, they agree almost unanimously on this: “Gibraltar is Spanish, and it is the task of every ruler and every citizen of this country to try for its return to the integrity of the motherland.”
Spain wants Britain to show a willingness to begin the process of full restitution of Spanish sovereignty over the Rock, even if it should take decades. Britain’s claim to the Rock, on the other hand, is based on 288 years of uninterrupted occupation, backed up by the 1713 treaty.
The British government has also committed itself to the wishes of the Gibraltarians, who desire to stay British. This is in part a political move by the British, because they think they’ll always have the Gibraltarians on their side and therefore will never lose controlling influence in Gibraltar. In the memories of British leaders is the fact that in a 1967 referendum only 44 of the 12,182 voters cast their ballots in favor of Spanish rule.
The average Gibraltarian is quick to point out, though, that they are not anti-Spanish. It is just that they prefer British-type democracy. This, despite the fact that most bilingual Gibraltarians speak better Spanish than English and prefer Spanish food.
For its part, the Spanish government has remained firm in its claim that the wishes of the people of Gibraltar are not the point in issue.
“Not without logic,” wrote the Plain Truth in September 1974, “Spain asserts that the present inhabitants of Gibraltar are an imported population, and that the real Gibraltarians, whose descendants now live in nearby areas in Spain, were those Spaniards driven off the Rock in 1704 by the British.
“Britain retorts that Gibraltar has been British for some 270 years—longer than Spain held the Rock after its capture from the Moors in 1462.
“And so the controversy continues.”
Sick and tired of a “foreign” Gibraltar, with its historic enemy peering down on them in their own backyard while guarding the rich shipping lanes entering and leaving the Mediterranean, Spain, this time helped behind the scenes by Europe, is mustering up all the muscle it can to push Britain off the Rock of Gibraltar!
Will they be successful? While there are definite indications that tend to confirm they will, that remains to be seen.
What is certain though is that Britain will lose control of Gibraltar!
The Trumpet has a special scoop, which indicates that Britain is about to lose Gibraltar soon. The source of this inside knowledge and prediction is truly startling!
Increasing the Pressure
Recent pressure from Spain has definitely catapulted the Gibraltar issue towards a crisis point.
On June 26, the European Council instructed London to guarantee Gibraltar the right to vote in the next European Parliament elections, in 2004.
In 1999 Britain was taken before the European Court of Human Rights for not allowing the citizens of Gibraltar to vote in European elections, and was fined 74,000 euros. That’s right! Corrected in its politics towards one of its own colonial enclaves by the growing clout of the EU!
Nevertheless, the British government up to recently was still dragging its feet over the issue. That technique had always worked in the past, when Britain had more political clout. Now, as Britain attempts to blend into the Union of nations, the old “queen of the waves” is regularly getting bullied about.
The EU committee, ready if necessary to take a corrective role again, has urged Britain to respect the court ruling and said it would examine the case again if London ignores its obligation. So what did Britain do? It had no choice. Rather than receive further stripes from its EU master, on July 26 it jumped back into discussions over the future of Gibraltar with Spain, under the terms of the 1984 Brussels Declaration.
The terms of this discussion are now firmly in Europe’s playing field—just as Spain wants it.
One may ask: Why so much pressure on Great Britain from a nation that has been a minor power since the 1700s?
The fact is, Spain has been in the midst of a big industrial boom for several decades, enjoying an economic revolution since the mid-1960s. In 1964, Alfred Zanker, former economic correspondent in Europe for USNews & World Report, called Spain “the world’s newest ‘miracle’ country.”
As Franco lay on his death-bed, up-and-coming powers within the country opened sunny Spain up to tourism. It quickly became the “hotel of the world.” Now, 40 million tourists visit Spain in the summer months—that’s one tourist for each citizen. More people go there for their holidays than anywhere else in the world.
With membership of the EU, Spain has quickly shot up to become a leading player in Europe. Europe is where its real strength lies, and the EU has become the prime tool in Spain’s revived mission to retrieve Gibraltar.
With considerable new political and economic clout, it is only natural that Spain grab the opportunity to get Gibraltar back, as Britain slips further in decline. Rather than the other way round, today it is Spain talking about Gibraltar to Britain. And, quite frankly, now that Europe has started taking a hand in the matter, who is stopping them?
Will Britain listen and cave in under a little pressure? Will it have led to this—Britain handing over the Rock because of words, threats and pressure, when it successfully defended Gibraltar against the combined might of great nations in years past?
General Franco imposed a blockade on Gibraltar to try to get it back. He would have liked to have assured himself a popular niche in Spanish history by turning over the fortress to the Spanish people as a parting “gift” before his death.
Later, on entering the EU, Spain, a fledgling democracy, had to lift the blockade. As Gibraltar is British territory, and European law requires that all member countries have open borders with one another, it had no choice in the matter. In return, the British negotiators stated their willingness to discuss, for the first time, the tricky question of sovereignty.
Europe’s diplomatic stance is that it is incongruous for Gibraltar to continue to be a bone of contention between two treaty partners in a major economic and military alliance. Surely, this gives the EU great leverage to oust Great Britain from Gibraltar.
Meanwhile, Gibraltarians want a say over their own future. They argue that the Gibraltar question isn’t one of choosing between British and Spanish supremacy, but rather one of self-determination. The citizens of Gibraltar want the right to decide for themselves. They want to keep open certain advantageous ties with Britain but want more of a say over their future—with the same open borders and free trading rights other EU countries enjoy. Years of blockade have brought feelings of frustration and confinement to the inhabitants of Gibraltar, despite their relative prosperity.
Perhaps collectively Gibraltarians, from time to time, feel like a political chess piece moving in and out of stalemate.
Thus, they have recently increased their pressure by airing their appeal before the United Nations.
And it doesn’t stop there. Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Peter Caruana has not only been before UN committees to represent the colony’s case on a number of recent occasions, but to the European Atlantic Group in the House of Commons as well.
On July 3, Gibraltar’s parliament voted unanimously to ask the United Nations Decolonization Committee to visit the territory to boost their claim for independent recognition, and for Britain as the administering power to support such a move.
Great Britain, however, would rather sit back comfortably and maintain the status quo for as long as possible. There are a lot of business interests wrapped up in this financial haven.
Consequently, the European Council’s instructions to the UK about the colony’s voting rights were totally ignored in the British press the next day—June 27. Instead there were articles in the national dailies about increasing investment in Gibraltar and building a commercial center to attract more tourists and people from nearby towns! That is, until the European Court cracked the whip. Then, very quickly, Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, agreed to resume talks with his Spanish counterpart, under the terms of the 1984 Brussels Declaration.
So at times, Britain, like Spain, can play the ostrich with its head in the sand over the Gibraltar conflict.
Britain should be especially alert just now, if it means to hold on to Gibraltar much longer. There are at least three wild cards that could play a vital role in deciding who ends up with the winning hand over the Gibraltar question.
Wild Card One
Wild card one is the dynamism within Europe in relation to the Gibraltar question itself.
German-dominated Europe is all about expansion of markets to the benefit of the Union. It has a vested economic interest in the untapped wealth awaiting economic exploitation in Africa. Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus are vital, strategic stepping stones to these markets. But as long as the UK is outside the euro threshold, it is barred from being a full participant in these advantageous economic thrusts.
Quite simply, Britain being in control of Gibraltar means that the UK is in the way of the front line EU countries getting the sort of control they want. It is not surprising, then, that the leading EU country, Germany, shows itself generally supportive of Spain’s plight.
One thing is clear. As a British enclave in Europe, Gibraltar is officially a part of the EU. So by pushing Britain into giving full European voting rights to Gibraltar, those pulling the strings in the EU are bringing the Gibraltarians closer to the Union. Imagine the situation if Britain did an about turn and left the EU. With their claim for self-determination granted, Gibraltar may decide it more in their interest to side with Europe than with Britain, especially if the Council of Europe gave them enough guarantees and incentives: a rabbit which they could easily pull out of the hat.
Moreover, if Britain were to lag behind economically in comparison to countries like Spain and Germany, for whatever reason, whether it be a membership or currency issue, then siding with Spain might quickly appear a more attractive option to the residents on the Rock.
Wild Card Two
Wild card two is Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair, head of a nation lacking pride and will and garlanded with Europe’s top Charlemagne Prize. Blair, in his way, is pro-European enough to allow his arm to be twisted in “the interest of Europe,” even in the face of staunch national opposition.
Could he be convinced that giving up Gibraltar is “the decent thing to do”? Or might he, given a suitable set of conditions, consider giving Gibraltar away a convenient gesture and a wise way of ridding Britain of another problem, while strengthening ties with Europe or gaining some short-term political benefit?
Does a weakened, Blair-led country have the will to haggle and butt heads over what many Brits, especially among the younger generations, now think of as just a rock? Is the Rock about to go the same way as Suez or Panama—given back without a fight?
Spain is deadly serious, especially since Britain rejected their 1997 offer of joint sovereignty over Gibraltar. On August 7, Gibraltar’s 24-hour news service, Panorama Online Daily, reported in an article titled “‘Spanish Secret’ to Recover Rock,” “The ruling ‘Popular Party’ in Spain says they have discovered a way to recover the Rock for Spain! ‘The secret is to negotiate with the UK for Gibraltar to adapt its laws to those of the European Union. From that moment, the Rock will not be economically viable for the UK and they will have to give in,’ said Guillermo Martinez Casan, spokesman for Europe in Spain’s foreign affairs congressional committee.” Sr. Martinez added that the high economic costs will make Britain give in sooner or later.
When Spain had Franco, in his words the aim was to make the Rock “a ruinous burden for the British taxpayer and a grievous prison for Gibraltar’s inhabitants.” Now, bereft of Franco, Spain turns to a strong, German-led EU.
Can Prime Minister Blair withstand the slaps on the back, the cajoling, the masked threats, the sharp words, the underhand methods, the down-playing, the snide insults and the strategies of pressure bound to be applied to Britain over the Gibraltar question?
Might the majestic Rock, symbolic of British mastery and strength, pictured for centuries under British control as a lion guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean, soon better be characterized as the UK’s beached whale?
If the initiative comes to give back Gibraltar, it will probably surface from within the British leadership. After all, isn’t that what happened when Her Majesty’s government gifted Hong Kong back to China—softly, without a fight, hardly without a murmur?
Reading statements from books like Paul Einzig’s Decline and Fall, written coincidentally in the late ’60s and early 1970s during a time of socialist rule in Britain, can raise fears, now 30 years later: “If the Spanish Republic had not been overthrown before the war, Gibraltar would have been handed over on a silver platter to a socialist regime long before now.”
The outcome that Gibraltarians fear most at the moment—complete withdrawal of British support—may yet prove to be the order of the day.
It wouldn’t be the first territory to suffer a lack of resolve on the part of Britain. In fact, it would be one of the last, as Britain doesn’t have many left!
Only Gibraltar and a few scattered remnants of what was the British Empire remain. Since the Second World War, mainly by peaceful means, Britain has lost most of its important sea gates, including Burma and Ceylon (today’s Sri Lanka) in 1948, the Suez Canal in 1956, Trinidad and Tobago in 1962, Malta in 1964, the Maldive Islands in 1965, Singapore (the “Gibraltar of the Orient”) in 1971, and Hong Kong in 1997.
Many more territories than sea gates have been lost in the last few decades. And despite the immense value of these gates, their loss generally rests dull in the British public’s consciousness.
Wild Card Three
This is where the danger of wild card three could come into play. In fact, it could already be at work!
In his zeal that Gibraltar should have the right of self-determination, Mr. Caruana is asking the UN to treat all remaining British colonial territories on a one-by-one basis with respect to the right for independent representation and self-determination.
This stands to drag other territories of the few remaining to Britain into the arena, making what happens to Gibraltar a precedent for other self-determination seekers.
It’s almost as though, by adding other dependent British territories to their list, Gibraltar intends to give weight to their argument. This form of trying to involve the UN not only stands to further endanger Britain’s ability to hold on to the very few territories it still has left, but angers Spain, because it attempts to take the problem-solving out of Europe’s hands.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique warned that any British attempt to change Gibraltar’s constitutional status would be perceived as a “grave, hostile act.” He continued, “There are some worrisome movements under way in the sense of advancing toward Gibraltarian self-determination. We have to send a very clear message to the Gibraltarians that if they continue down this path they are going to enter into even more confrontation with Spain.”
These are just some of the dangers that Britain must be deft at side stepping or confronting if it has the will to hold on to Gibraltar much longer.
But what is this special scoop, the insider information demonstrating that Britain is about to lose Gibraltar? You will probably find the source of this information surprising, if not startling!
Tucked within the Bible are the great promises God made to Abraham for his obedience and faith. One of these promises was that his descendants should possess the great sea gates of the world. This tremendous promise was passed on down through Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim—the U.S. and Britain in modern times. The greater blessing was to go to Ephraim, who would become a commonwealth of nations. Between them they would share the sea gates of the world: “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed [descendants] shall possess the gate of his enemies” (Gen. 22:17). The promises God gave Abraham are repeated elsewhere in the Old Testament (for example, Gen. 24:60; 26:1-5).
Herbert W. Armstrong, in The United States and Britain in Prophecy, said, “These promises cannot be broken or annulled. Not if it be true that ‘Heaven and earth shall pass, but my word shall not pass away.’”
Sadly, British leaders have no inkling of who gave them Gibraltar, and why it will be taken away!
Deuteronomy 28 tells us that Israel’s blessings would be taken away and details the sort of curses they would face if they turned from God.
One third of your Bible is prophecy for this end time. Now, just before Jesus Christ’s return, the prophecies are coming true!
Tragically, the symbol of Gibraltar, just like the many other symbols of British and American pride and power, will be broken!
People scoff at prophecy from the Almighty God (ii Pet. 3:3-4). But as astounding as it will be to many, God will bring all His prophecies to pass! (Isa. 46:11).
Though Gibraltar is only a small part of the picture, we still know Britain will lose it soon—and not in valiant defense after a long siege, but in utter ignominy—in helpless, foolish sacrifice—in disgrace and shame.