[Opinion] Even though the suggestion was laughed off by Downing Street, there is some concern that comes with the suggestions of possible military intervention against Spain to protect the sovereignty of Gibraltar.
Brexit has now seemingly become synonymous with controversy and confusion, and following revelations that negotiations could give Spain a veto in relation to any trade deals involving the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, former Conservative Leader Lord Howard stirred up a further storm.
In comments that have been criticised as being unnecessary and inflammatory, Lord Howard suggested that Prime Minister Theresa May and the British government would be willing to use military intervention to protect the sovereignty of Gibraltar.
He likened the situation to that of the Falkland Islands during the Thatcher administration.
The issue had arisen from the issues surrounding the European Union’s inclusion of Gibraltar in the Brexit negotiation schedule.
There is currently an internal EU border between Spain and Gibraltar, and as such the EU has scheduled negotiations surrounding Gibraltar’s arrangements with neighbouring Spain.
The issue that caused problems with this; the EU stating that Spain’s voice would be heard on the matter, and as such effectively giving the EU member a hand in any Brexit negotiations involving the overseas territory.
Clearly, as has been so common with Brexit negotiations up until this point, there are issues and there are no clear indications of how and when the disagreement will be solved.
Either way, however, there was no need for any suggestion of disagreement or conflict, let alone any suggestion of military action, as was suggested by Lord Howard.
As much as the suggestions have not been taken too seriously, with Downing Street all but laughing off the idea, and Theresa May reinforcing her desire to solve any issues surrounding Gibraltar and its sovereignty through communication rather than force, it is concerning just how blasé the idea of involvement in conflict with a close NATO ally was treated.
Spain’s Prime Minister today also came out and spoke of the surprise today towards the ‘angry rhetoric’ coming out of Britain in relation to his country.
Even so, such provocation of allies, especially by people who hold some authority in their opinions, as former Conservative Leader Lord Howard does, should not be ignored as carefreely as it has been.
While Spain has been quite reserved and cautious in responding to the threat, however empty it was, there are many countries and international leaders in the world who would not have reacted in as relaxed of a manner.
In a time with issues such as global terrorism and the ongoing migrant crisis affecting much of Europe, creating unnecessary international divides between countries simply seems nonsensical and foolish.
While it is clear that this particular incident seems to have passed without much trouble, there is certainly a concern as to whether this kind of blasé approach to foreign relations by some senior and former politicians is to become the new norm in a post-Brexit Britain.