Their vote in the 2016 EU referendum could not have been much more decisive: the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar voted Remain by a margin of 96% to 4%. But they were going to be taken out of the EU anyway. Now, Gibraltar is about to go its own way: to the horror of Brexit boosters everywhere, it is looking to join the Schengen area.
The supporting article may cause Brexiteers to spontaneously combust. “Gibraltar would not have a land border for people going into its territory, but it would have reinforced airport border controls … the offer on the table is de facto access to the Schengen area while seaport and airport access in Gibraltar would be controlled by Frontex officers reporting to Spanish authorities”. Frontex is the European Border and Coastguard Agency.
There is more. “All sides agree on guaranteeing the free movement of people across the Spanish-Gibraltarian border, in exchange for making Gibraltar’s airport and seaport the new EU external border … This means that people landing in [Gibraltar] … could later move freely across the Schengen Area without going through passport control … From Gibraltar airport, it would also be possible to fly to the 26 members of Schengen”.
On passport checks, “Spain has accepted that, for a transitional period at least, it will not be Spanish police officers but Frontex agents. The presence of Spanish police in Gibraltar was a red line for Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, and Spain has temporarily given up on this ‘visibility’ in order to facilitate a deal”. And the result of all that?
Gibraltar would move closer to the EU while the UK separates itself from the bloc. What effect a period of Schengen area membership would have on any future vote on the status of Gibraltar is hard to predict. But a United Kingdom with all the border controls and customs formalities that come with it might not appeal to Gibraltarians so much.
So, having seen that news, the obvious corollary is to ask what all those fearless Brexit boosters are saying about it. I mean, what about SOVEREIGNTY? People with BLUE PASSPORTS arriving in Gib to be challenged by UNELECTED EUROCRATS? What have Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his chief Gauleiter Richard Tice had to say about it? Er, nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nix. Nada. Not a sausage. Bugger all.
While clueless Brexiteers queue up to play “Blame the French”, Gibraltar is slowly slipping away to set its own course for the future. Now that’s what I call taking back control.