The air of unreality surrounding anything EU-related put out by much of our free and fearless press has been typified by the screaming, baying and ultimately pointless ranting over Gibraltar. It only took one line in the EU’s draft Article 50 document, and off went all the Usual Suspects, denouncing the dastardly Spanish, vowing bloody revenge for some act that hadn’t been committed, and becoming experts on the Treaty of Utrecht.
As so often, it was the Mail and Sun that led the way in stirring up hatred (the Murdoch goons, though, hedged their bets by advertising cheap holidays to Spain on the same front page that sneered “UP YOURS SENORS”). The Mail is still carrying on its righteous crusade today, courtesy of Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover, while the Sun has even roped in former head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Lord West.
Both are fixated on the passage of a Spanish warship close to Gibraltar, with Glover sniffing “The final piece of evidence that illustrates just how unbalanced the Spanish government has become was illustrated this week by a photograph of a minuscule British patrol boat (all we dare keep in Gibraltar these days) escorting a large Spanish warship out of the enclave’s territorial waters”. The Sun, bless it, went a lot further.
After getting over-excited and frothing “As UK and Spain tensions over Gibraltar mount, watch the moment the Royal Navy chases a Spanish warship out of British waters … THIS is the incredible moment a plucky Royal Navy patrol boat chased a much larger Spanish vessel out of Gibraltarian territorial waters today” (still using Nick Pisa of Wrong Amanda Knox And Meredith Kercher Story, I see), the good Admiral had words of warning.
“SPAIN’S decision to deploy a warship through Gibraltar territorial waters has been branded ‘silly’ and ‘provocative’ by a former head of the Royal Navy … Admiral Lord West today blasted Spanish naval commanders and told The Sun Online such stunts could easily lead to someone being killed”. He did not, though, say who that someone might be.
So let me put the Murdoch goons straight. The Infanta [Princess] Cristina is a corvette which, among its range of armaments, mounts one 76mm gun and two 40mm ones. These fire shells over an effective range far greater than that enjoyed by HMS Scimitar’s two stern-mounted machine guns. So if the shooting started, it would be over pretty quickly.
I’ll go further: one direct hit from a 76mm shell, or a couple from the smaller 40mm ones, and there would be very little of HMS Scimitar left, no matter how “plucky”, “resolute”, or “patriotic” its crew - who would all be wiped out. BANG.
Moreover, the Infanta Cristina was not “chased out” of the area. It did not even have to change course. All the Scimitar could do was to show its presence.
That would be the ultimate result of the Sun’s pathetic willy-waving.
The reality is that Brexit is the ideal excuse to revise trading relationships in favour of those who remain in the EU club. The Sun and Mail should have thought about that before acting like drunken football fans in a Magaluf bar. No amount of swaggering will mask the damage their jingoism is going to do to the UK.