Saturday, December 08, 2018

The Rock of Gibraltar

As Brexit proceeds to its ultimate conclusion, will the contentious “backstop” debate concerning a reinstated hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland i.e. Britain and the European Union, be a deal breaker? The "backstop" is an insurance policy to avoid a hard border between the Irelands by keeping the entire United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU for an undefined period of time (Brexiteers would fear eternity). Add to that the status of much forgotten Gibraltar. Both international borders risk being a bridge too far for negotiators since the Irish wish to avoid strife reminiscent of The Troubles whereas Spain wishes to still have full access for 10,000 workers that cross to the British Overseas Territory each work day. In a symbiotic relationship, Gibraltar is a zone of transition for much commerce, providing an economic boost to economically depressed Andalusia and a source of notable trading wealth to Gibraltar’s citizens. There are again rumblings from the Spanish Government which wishes to gain some share of political control if not outright sovereignty over the territory it ceded to Britain in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht. In a 2018 trip to Spain I went out of my way to see this strategic gem at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula which is only a hop and a skip from the coast of Africa. These views are from the container port of Algeciras, Spain, looking east to The Rock. They were taken during a time constrained break in a bus journey from Cadiz to Malaga. One photo involved entering a controlled zone in an area notorious for the transshipment of drugs, so not without a smidgen of trepidation.