Village News

Christmas Lights

200923 | Farewell, Gibraltar – Cornwall’s former neighbour in European Parliament decides which side its bread is buttered

Farewell, Gibraltar – Cornwall’s former neighbour in European Parliament decides which side its bread is buttered

Posted By Julia Penhaligon on 23rd September 2020

By Julia Penhaligon

The island of Gibraltar, which until last year was – with Cornwall - part of the former South West region constituency in the European Parliament, is preparing to erect border controls with the United Kingdom in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.

While technically a “British Overseas Territory,” the island shared with Cornwall the responsibility for electing three Brexit MEPs in May 2019. The south west also elected two Liberal Democrats and one Green Euro MP. All six were abolished when Britain left the EU at the start of this year.

Voters in Gibraltar had been overwhelmingly in favour of pro-EU candidates. The island had been put into the South West Euro constituency because, geographically, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were its closest neighbours.

Despite Boris Johnson’s election promises of an “oven-ready” Brexit deal, it is now clear that the UK is close to severing ties with Europe with no deal at all – bringing chaos to large parts of the economy, and reviving fears of an “Operation Yellowhammer” emergency as supermarket shelves empty because of a collapsed road haulage industry.

Leaked government documents suggest 7,000 lorries could be queueing to get through Dover. The prospect of a “hard” border between Ireland and Ulster has also revived fears of a renewed military conflict with sections of the republican community.

And now Cornwall’s former constituency partner in the European Parliament is going its own way, making trade and travel more difficult – even between neighbours. Gibraltar has decided to insist on border controls with the UK, which will become a “third country” for EU purposes.

Turn left at Tresco....Gibraltar had been part of the same Euro constituency as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Turn left at Tresco....Gibraltar had been part of the same Euro constituency as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Photo by Adam Cli - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84412392

The longer term constitutional position of Gibraltar remains unclear. Gibraltar was captured from Spain during a war in 1704. Spain has never given up its claim to sovereignty.

Despite continuing pro-Brexit sentiment in Cornwall, there are those who will look at Gibraltar and wish that the tide of history might wash wider and deeper.