Petard, by, hoist, own, your. Arrange these words into a well known phrase or saying. It’s been a bad day for the Unionist parties. Remember how all those Unionist parties and their supporters were screaming to the rafters that there would be a Spanish veto? Well it turns out that they were right. It’s just that it’s not an independent Scotland that will be subject to a Spanish veto, it’s the UK’s Brexit. That’s what comes of giving Spain ideas about vetos.
The EU’s official reply to Theresa May’s Brexit letter has been received, and in paragraph 22 it says “After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.”
This paragraph gives Spain what it said it wanted prior to Brexit, but which was ignored by a Unionist media that was far more interested in trumpeting a non-existent threat to veto an independent Scotland. It gives Spain an explicit veto power over any Brexit agreement that includes Gibraltar. That Spain was going to seek this explicit veto power was obvious to anyone who was paying attention. That doesn’t include much of the British media, and particularly not the Brexiteer branch which is now howling with outrage that their plans to take the UK into a dystopian neo-conservative tax haven have just run into a Spanish veto threat.
According to some reports today in the British media, the veto power that Spain now has to veto any Brexit deal that includes Gibraltar has come as a surprise. As I type this, the announcer on Sky News introduced a Brexiteer commentator and said that the Spanish veto seems to have caught a lot of analysts off guard. But it’s only come as a surprise to British nationalists who weren’t paying attention, and who were desperately trying to spin any statement from a Spanish official into a blow for Nicola Sturgeon while at the same time ignoring the things that the Spanish government was explicitly saying. Spain had loudly advertised its desire to seek a veto over Gibraltar, and it was very clear to anyone who had been following the statements of Spanish politicians instead of relying on what was filtered through the pages of the Express or the Telegraph.
The Spanish veto over Gibraltar won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following this blog. Back in July last year I pointed out in this blog that Spain was going to veto any Brexit that included Gibraltar. Wee Ginger Dug 1, Metrocommentariat 0. I noted that the then Spanish foreign minister had stated that Spain would have the right to veto any Brexit deal including Gibraltar and that he said Spain would make it “clear that Gibraltar does not belong to the UK”. But none of the Unionist media outlets were interested, it didn’t suit their narrative that it was only an independent Scotland that needed to be worried about Spain.
In the cosmic scheme of things, Spain isn’t really particularly concerned about Scotland or Scottish independence. There is considerable sympathy for Scotland in Spain, even amongst people who are viscerally opposed to Catalan independence. Spanish people know that Scotland was an independent state for almost a thousand years before it merged with the Kingdom of England to form the UK. Scotland was in fact an independent state long before the Spanish state existed. In Spain’s view, Scottish independence can be managed, and as I’ve written numerous times in this blog before, vetoing Scottish membership of the EU would undermine the argument Spain has consistently made against permitting Catalan self-determination. Following Brexit, the Spanish government has made clear what some of us have been saying for a long time, they will not veto Scottish membership of the EU if Scotland becomes independent legally and constitutionally.
On the other hand, Spain is very interested indeed in the status of Gibraltar. The UK will not be permitted to waltz off into the Brexit sunset without coming to an agreement with Spain over the position of Gibraltar. The decision of voters in England and Wales to give majority support to Brexit gives Spain a massive advantage in future negotiations over the status of what’s called el Peñón in Spanish. That’s an advantage that Spain will press home to maximum effect. The Telegraph is suddenly outraged that Spain might wield a veto. They were pretty cheerful about it when they were claiming that it was Scotland which might be vetoed. Threats are just fine when they’re directed against Scotland. That’s the double standards of Unionism in full flow.
In other news, Theresa May’s cunning plan to block a Scottish referendum by claiming that she’s acting for the majority of Scots received a bit of a blow today. Is it OK to say “blow for Theresa May”? I have to ask seeing as how that’s a phrase you never seem to see in the newspapers on account of how it’s only ever Nicola Sturgeon that’s on the receiving end of them. On the day that Theresa received the official letter from Nicola requesting a Section 30 Order, an opinion poll was published showing that a large majority of voters in Scotland expect that it should be the Scottish Parliament which decides on whether and when a Scottish independence referendum should be held.
According to the poll, carried out by Survation, 61% of Scottish voters believe that it’s the Scottish Parliament and not Westminster which should have the right to decide. Theresa May’s high risk strategy of blocking a Scottish referendum looks like it’s going to end badly for her. By a very significant margin the people of Scotland believe that it’s their own parliament which should decide on a Scottish referendum, and they’re not going to look positively on an intransigent Tory party with just one MP and a mere 22% of Holyrood votes telling them that they can’t.
We’re only a couple of days into the Brexit process and already the fantasies of the Tories about facing down Scotland, and the fantasies of the Brexiteers about how the EU would fall over itself to give Britain everything it wanted have crashed into the hard brick wall of reality. Now where’s that Spanish dictionary, I want to look up the word for Schadenfreude.
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