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Gibraltar is Spanish!

Foreign minister hails Brexit decision as way to recover the Rock

Brexit supporters celebrate Thursday's result.
Brexit supporters celebrate Thursday's result.G. CADDICK / AFP

For Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García Margallo, the upside to the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union is that “the Spanish flag is much closer to flying over Gibraltar.”

Speaking on Spanish radio, Margallo could barely contain his euphoria at the prospect of exacting revenge on Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s first minister, who so recently suggested he stick the Spanish flag where the sun doesn’t shine…

One might reasonably have expected at such a historic juncture that a cool head would be the order of the day, that diplomacy would prevail, but Margallo’s patriotism simply could not be restrained, albeit more for personal reasons than geopolitical emergencies. No sooner was his radio interview over than he was bragging about putting one over on Picardo, making light of diplomacy and a crisis in the EU and reducing the situation to the level of two cockerels fighting at dawn; a tragicomic exercise in spitefulness.

Margallo may yet find time to promise that the Popular Party will return Gibraltar to Spain

Gibraltar is Spanish. That’s the conclusion Spain’s foreign minister draws from this disaster. It has to be said that he’s never been very ministerial, and much less outward looking. This morning he wore a tie with the red and gold of the Spanish flag. And it wasn’t a metaphor.

This was what Spain’s foreign minister wore to a radio interview to argue for the return of the Rock, while at the same time wringing the maximum from the final moments of the general election campaign ahead of Sunday’s poll. He may yet find time to promise that the Popular Party will return Gibraltar to Spain. In short, Margallo wants to see the Union Jack lowered once and for all .

He even took the time during his interview to explain to listeners that Brexit means that Gibraltar is now a bilateral question between London and Madrid. Brussels will play no part in any future conversations. So let’s celebrate: Europe is being torn apart, but Spain is united. Margallo has just incorporated Gibraltar into Spain’s collective imagination.

English version by Nick Lyne

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