The real Spanish veto threat

I wasn’t going to blog today because I’ve got a bad case of manflu, which is like a regular cold only with additional histrionics, drama, and attention seeking. So very much like the Labour leadership contest then. But there’s news from Spain which I thought worth sharing, mostly because it’s deeply discomfiting to those Unionists who keep claiming that Spain would veto the membership of an independent Scotland in the EU. And when you’ve got a severe dose of manflu, the one thing that cheers you up more than anything else is making people who annoy you really miserable.

Regular readers of this blog will know that the myth that Spain would veto an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU is just that, a myth without foundation. At no point has the Spanish government ever made a statement to that effect, and on those occasions when he has been asked explicitly to state whether or not Spain would veto the membership of the EU of an independent Scotland, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has refused to give an answer.

The reason is that Madrid’s opposition to a Catalan independence referendum is based on a clause in the Spanish constitution which says that Spanish territory is indivisible. Madrid argues that Catalan independence would be unconstitutional and therefore they would refuse to recognise it. Madrid’s officials have explicitly stated that they would veto the EU membership of a Catalonia which declared independence. They’ve never done the same about Scotland for the simple reason that the Scottish independence process would be perfectly constitutional and legal. When asked about this situation in an interview back in February 2014, foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo said that if Scotland were to achieve independence within the framework of the British constitution, then Spain would have nothing to say about it.

Of course Spain doesn’t want to encourage Scottish independence, what with us being besties of the Catalans, but on the other hand they know that they have no legal or constitutional grounds to object to Scottish independence. They objected to Kosovan independence because the Serbian constitution prohibits it, but Spain did not object to the independence of Croatia or South Sudan which were constitutional and legal. What will happen with the Scottish independence process is that Spain will huff and puff and harrumph and bluff, but the morning after a Yes vote in a Scottish independence referendum Madrid will say, “But we’ve said all along that Scotland is an entirely different case from Catalonia.”

Foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo has been a busy man this week. Speaking earlier in the week about the situation of Gibraltar post-Brexit, the Spanish foreign minister did make an explicit threat of a veto. Only it wasn’t Scotland he threatened, he threatened to veto the terms of the UK’s Brexit if it includes Gibraltar. Reported in the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper, the Spanish foreign minister was quoted as saying that when the UK presses the Brexit button, the European Council must agree the terms of the negotiations “by unanimity”. He added that Spain intended to make it “clear that Gibraltar does not belong to the UK” and would “have the right to veto”.

So it’s not Scotland that faces a threat of a Spanish veto. It’s the rest of the UK and the Conservative government. Oh, the irony.

Last night there was a very interesting interview with Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo on the El Cascabel programme on Channel 13tv of Spanish television. The programme is available online for a limited period. Speaking about the dangers that occur when a party leaves the centre ground and flirts with extremism, García-Margallo said that Nigel Farage had succeeded in dragging the Conservative party and United Kingdom out of the EU, and added, “I may be wrong, but within four or five years England will return to the frontiers that it had in the sixteenth century.”

Asked by the interviewer Antonio Jiménez to clarify his point and asked whether he was referring to Scotland, García-Margallo elaborated, “I believe that Scotland will demand an independence referendum in order to remain in the European Union.” He continued to speak of the problems that Northern Ireland would face as a result of the Brexit vote, and the risk to the peace process. At no point did he hint that Spain would veto Scottish membership of the EU if we vote for independence in the referendum that he expects us to have. “When you put the interests of your party before your country,” he went on, speaking about the British Conservatives, “the result is a catastrophe.”
(Link to video Comments start at 11.30. Please note the programme is in Spanish)

What the Spanish foreign minister’s comments tell us is that the highest levels of the Spanish government believe that Scottish independence is highly likely, and equally they tell us that they believe that the actions of Scotland in seeking an independence referendum are perfectly understandable given the behaviour of the British Conservatives. And by speaking of a return by England (and he said England not the United Kingdom) to its sixteenth century borders García-Margallo implicitly recognised that at the time Scotland was an independent state and was seeking a return to that status as a result of Brexit.

There was no hint of a threat against Scotland in anything that García-Margallo had to say, nothing to suggest a veto, and given that just a few minutes previously he had been discussing the situation in Catalonia, it would have been very easy for him to speak about any measures Spain might take to discourage Scotland from seeking independence. In fact, he adopted a tone that was sympathetic to Scotland and clearly set a second Scottish independence referendum within the context of the Conservative government being dragged to the right under the influence of political extremists and as a means for Scotland to safeguard its EU membership by recovering its previous status as an independent state. I nearly fell off my chair.

So there you have it. There is a serious threat of a Spanish veto arising out of the political fall out from the Brexit vote. It’s just that it’s not a threat against an independent Scotland remaining a member of the EU, it’s a threat against the rest of the UK getting the kind of Brexit that the Tories might want.

Right now due to my manflu my eyes are teary and my nose is running and I feel a bit queasy, which is probably how the Scottish Conservatives and Unionists will be feeling once they digest the latest news from Spain. Spain is threatening to veto them, not an independent Scotland.

Link to audio version of this blog, courtesy of @lumi_1984


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59 comments on “The real Spanish veto threat

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug The real Spanish veto threat […]

    • Eddie Mullen says:

      This is an excellent analysis Paul, gives complete clarity to the different constitutional implications for the UK and Spain. The other Spanish dimension is territorial integrity and the role the military has played in “maintaining ” that since the 19th century in Spain. Gibraltar is another layer in top. “Piratas fuera de Gibraltar.”

  2. John says:

    Sympathies for Gibraltar though, somewhat between a rock (haha!) and a hard place.

  3. Dan Huil says:

    A very prescient article. Any sensible person reading it would agree with WGD’s conclusion. The biased britnat media however…

    Get well soon.

  4. Dave Hansell says:

    The problem is that it is highly unlikely this would be something your average punter anywhere in these islands would see in the fifth column which used to be known as the fourth estate.

  5. alharron says:

    *Insert rant about the derision of “manflu” being perpetuation of cultural conditioning to force men to work while sick*

    Thanks very much for this, really excellent. I’ll have to have a watch of El Cascabel, even if my Spanish isn’t exactly fluent!

  6. You need to get this in the Scottish media. Or the SG do!

  7. Irma says:

    Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee!

  8. bedelsten says:

    Manflu is a serious debilitating affliction much misunderstood, especially by those of the more feminine persuasion, and you are offered condolences. For a limited period only.

    If you are fishing for sympathy (pun alert), a good SNEEZ would probably cheer you up since it would let you say to Englandshire ‘my one is bigger than yours’, and, as you have mentioned in the past, Spanish politics will be influenced by potential loss off access to said SNEEZ – the Scottish National Economic Exclusion Zone.

  9. Fudgefase says:

    Sadly, I think the only people who think Scotland can’t go it alone are the Scots. Too many years being brainwashed and told how needy we are.

  10. Macart says:

    Clocked the retweet on Rev’s twit line this morning and I don’t think I’ve stopped laughing since. (Still smiling typing this)

    Anyroads, manflu is utterly horrendous and requires enormous amounts of sympathy and a gopher (not the fuzzy variety). Telly remotes may be out of reach, kettles may need to be put on, blankies fetched and tucked, grapes may require chilling to the correct temperature then hand peeled and gophers are essential in this state of emergency.

    Gopher – you know it makes sense.

    • The fairer sex fail to understand that the only illness we men don’t get is hypochondria.
      My sympathies, Paul.
      It’s not looking good for the rUK. No Trade agreement without Freedom of movement. No deal unless all 27 countries agree. Spain veto if rUK insist on dragging Remain Gibraltar out of the EU.
      Independence is inevitable now.
      Slouch on the couch and gorge on the Breaking Bad saga, is my advice.
      I managed the Godfather trilogy, and the original House of Cards when I was laid low a few weeks ago.
      At least it’s not Spanish Flu !
      Oh, Jack, you’re a caution !

      • Macart says:

        I’ve been saying that to Mrs M for decades and y’know I think this whole failure to understand the condition is deliberate?

  11. Gibraltarians cannot be very impressed at the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine accident on their shore!

    In the 16th century, King Philip of Spain occupied part of Scotland, namely, ‘Ailsa Craig’! Gibraltar in reverse!

    Shame ‘Ailsa Craig’ had remained Spanish from the 16th century. It would have done wonders for west coast cuisine diversity!

    That is the weird situation Spain faces, with Gibraltar claimed by England!

    I don’t think this important Spanish intervention on Brexit will make the BBC News. Do you?

    Well spotted and great insight, again! Why don’t the BBC ever get WGD on as a commentator instead of Tom bloody Harris all the time.

    • I recall a wee gem ‘Father Malachy’s Miracle’, by Bruce Marshall, I think, the plot of which revolved around a heated debate about religion, the said Father Malachy was goaded by the local CoS minister to perform a ‘Catholic’ miracle, by transporting a local Den of Iniquity nightspot, the bane of both their lives, to the Bass Rock.
      Sure as Murphy attracts eggs, the nightclub was transported overnight to the Rock.
      Perversely, the novelty island disco was more popular than ever. I’ll not spoil the ending.
      If only Ailsa Craig was still ‘owned’ by Spain !
      Think of the Duty Free booze cruises, and fags at Spanish prices !
      It irks somewhat when Home Counties citizens can nip through the Chunnel to stock up with DF’s, a Chunnel of course which we partly funded.
      The Spanish veto. Lovin’ it. How do you like them Onions, Johnson, Fox and Davis?

  12. Ruth Dugdale says:

    Very disappointing to see you refer to a TV programme in a foreign language from a strange land. We have the BBC to keep us informed in our own tongue. Rather sad to see Jocky Scotch dabbling with Johnny Foreigner and believing their media.

  13. […] Source: The real Spanish veto threat […]

  14. Bill Hume says:

    Oh the delicious irony of it all.
    Man flu….lemsip with honey combined with plenty of (blended)Scotch.
    The lemsip and honey are optional.

  15. Kevin Evans says:

    Get well soon.

    Fantastic and well put forward logical and factual piece Paul.

    I hear many times the lie that Spain would veto Scotland. Piece like this provide me with the information needed to put right a lot of the half truths put out there by BBC and other tossers wanting to keep us down.


  16. Thomas Valentine says:

    Wee Ginngy, any chance of a follow up explaining if you are aware of all the reasons the Gibraltese voted so heavily for the EU?
    Its always implied here that they have big problems with the Spanish it seemed they would have voted the reverse.

  17. rowantree633 says:

    Get well soon – that news is very cheering – many thanks for sharing – I will circulate it further.. To celebrate – its tapas for supper this evening! Recipes from one of my favourite foodie sites:

    I have been watching the Gib situation carefully and oh boy but has Brexit has kicked the legs from under those folks…I really feel for them.

  18. Mike Adams says:

    I’m no EU constitutional expert, but if Scotland negotiates to REMAIN in the EU as an independent nation, would Spain even have a veto? It may well require a simple majority vote amongst EU members.

    If Scotland is independent prior to the end of the formal UK leave process, then Scotland remaining may well constitute part of the Brexit deal.

  19. dramfineday says:

    Oh-er, remind me again, did Ruthie McTankface not scoot over to Spain, prior to our indy ref, to seek support from similarly minded Spanish yoons in order to put the boot into Scotland? If so, given this news, her self propelling munitions might be about to explode and give her a massive Johnson, just when she didn’t expect it…..eeek!

  20. Really enjoyed hearing you expound on these same matters at Livingston Central SNP’s branch meeting last night Paul. I believe you raised the spirits of everyone in the room in regards to indy within the lifetime of the wee (medium sized) ginger dug.

  21. Ghillie says:

    The plot thickens!

    Hope you are feeling much better soon = ) Hot drinks and soft hankies required.

  22. says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.

  23. Habib Steele says:

    An encouraging article. I’d like to encourage you to take a gill of good Scotch blended whisky, a heaped teaspoonful of honey, and a gill of hot water mixed together for your manflu. Not a cure but a comforting cordial.

  24. […] Source: The real Spanish veto threat […]

  25. Connor McEwen says:

    FLIPPANT nachos grassy arse fur tha.
    TA TA

  26. Marconatrix says:

    My immediate reaction before reading any of the comments is that clearly this is all about Gibraltar. They´ve accepted that Scotland may well become independent and have weighed up the fact that this will encourage their own separatists against the prize of snatching Gib out of the mess of a disintegrating UK.

    Once that POV has been adopted, then it pays them to back and legitimise a Scottish vote since it would be ¨all above board, nothing to see here¨.

    Interesting times! (Hope you´re better now btw WGD)

  27. benmadigan says:

    “within four or five years England will return to the frontiers that it had in the sixteenth century.”
    Let us all hope, pray and work to make sure Senor García-Margallo is not wrong.
    Scotland, Ireland and Gibraltar,in one move!! Incredible!!
    I have the feeling we can count on our EU allies – after all for them half a loaf is better than no bread – so we stand to gain and they stand to gain too!
    what a poker game is coming up on the EU table! – if Ms May ever triggers Article 50!

    take care of yourself paul – cosset yourself at home for a few days – these coughs and sneezes can linger on and make life a misery unless you take things easy for a wishes for a speedy recovery

  28. I don’t think anyone sensible has said that Spain would veto Scotland joining the EU altogether. What has been claimed, and is far more credible is that Spain would veto any fast-track special status application by Scotland, which would require consent from all existing members, and force it join via the regular, slower mechanism, and refuse to waive any of the other accession rules, such as all new members must join the Euro.

    These are rather different kettles of fish. It is one thing for Scotland to carry on as a member of the EU without interruption, but quite another for it to be stuck as an independent state for several years, without financial subsidy from the rest of the UK, and waiting to complete the accession process, such as getting the budget deficit down form the current 10% ( without UK/EU transfers) to the 3% max as required by the stability and growth pact.

    • Mike Adams says:

      If Scotland had to ‘reapply’ as such, most likely we would continue as members via a holding agreement in the interim. There’s no appetite in the EU for a temporary Scottish exclusion.

    • I think we’d need to understand the real deficit before such pronouncements of doom are appropriate. The current situation puts all of Scotland’s revenue (and revenue making powers) in the hands of Westminster, who have a vested interest in making those Scottish assets appear to be UK assets at worst (ex-regio oil for example), or English assets (whisky and other exports) at best.

      Without real (accurate) revenue numbers, any discussion of deficit is meaningless.

  29. Davy says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the article.

    Regarding “manflu” I have a very sad story about that, one day my wife phoned me at work and tried to say she had went down with “manflu”, I of course told her it was impossible, but I did give her the universal attempted “manflu” cure to see if that would help whatever minor aliment she had. i.e. whisky, whisky and more whisky.

    I came home a few hours later to find a disaster, instead of using the opened bottle of blended whisky (medicinal use) the silly woman had opened my brand new 15 year old Glenfiddich and was gulping it down like lemonade.

    The shame has never left me, and of course she recovered as well.

  30. brianmchugheng says:

    The best cure for Manflu is whisky… for best results, consume between a half to one bottle. Get well soon Paul🙂

  31. Edward says:

    Hi Paul, hope your feeling better
    You mentioned that the video on the tv stations site may not be up for long
    but I think I found the video posted on youtube
    Which might be of help, except I don’t speak Spanish

  32. paul gerard mccormack says:

    “When you put the interests of your party before your country,” he went on, speaking about the British Conservatives, “the result is a catastrophe.”

    Yet again,this brings up the notion of patriotism and what it is to be patriotic. It really couldn’t be simpler.

    Clearly, from the evidence so far, in decades to come, what I can foretell is that the SNP party’s patriotism idealogically would have itself wither as a party once it has acheived its purpose of gaining independence from the british state. It would de facto have no further purpose unless it were to reconstitute itself should there be no democratic politics to fill a vacuum. So be it.

    Now the tories on the other hand from all the evidence i have seen to date throughout my life have never once been patriotic in their actions other than to self-serve the interests of their party and the structures of the ruling elite.

    Ther – never once mentioned the national socialists.

  33. Keithack says:

    Perhaps we should remind García-Margallo and, indeed, contributors to this blog, that the frontiers of England have not, in fact, moved since the 16th century. To find solace in his remarks is to accept his implication that Scotland was incorporated into England in 1707, thus expanding England’s frontier. To tolerate this conflation of ‘Inglaterra’ and the ‘United Kingdom’ does not help the Independence cause, as it bolsters the worldwide perception of Scotland as a mere region of England with a carnaptious secessionist movement, rather than a Nation, an equal cosignatory of a failed Union, whose sovereign people have the right in international law to determine their future as and when they like.

    • weegingerdug says:

      Whether we like it or not, and it’s probably safe to say most readers of this blog don’t, in Spain the word “Inglaterra” is widely used as a synonym for the United Kingdom.

      When I first moved to Spain I thought the translation of “He’s Scottish” was “Es escocésnolellamesinglésporquelecabrea” (He’s Scottishdon’tcallhimEnglishbecauseitpisseshimoff) because that’s how my Spanish friends always introduced me to other people.

  34. Tinto Chiel says:

    Great article, Paul, which will never surface in the MSM. Europe is simply waiting for us to do the right thing and we will be welcomed. Once Brexit is under way, more of their politicians will make this public.

    What’s this with the blended whisky for the’ flu? Only single malt works.

    Come on Kavanagh, man up, you’ve got to get to EK on Thursday night. My wife wants to clap The Dug.

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