After the UK voted to leave the European Union, an age old territorial dispute between Spain and the UK reemerged. Following the Brexit vote, Spain requested for joint sovereignty over the British territory of Gibraltar (which the vast majority of Gibraltar residents oppose), which lies on the southern tip of the Spanish peninsula. More recently, the European Council has suggested giving Spain the power to veto any trade deal between Britain and the EU that involves Gibraltar; which is the first dispute between the UK and the EU since Brexit negotiations began.
Spain ceded the territory of Gibraltar to the UK in 1713, and they’ve been trying to get it back ever since. So obviously, the UK is concerned by these proposals. In fact, over the weekend Lord Michael Howard compared the current situation in Gibraltar with the conflict over the Falkland Islands, and suggested that Prime Minister Theresa May would likely go to war to protect the territory if need be.
Spain added fuel to the fire when one of their Naval ships illegally entered the territorial waters of Gibraltar on Tuesday. Spain it turns out, does not recognize the UK’s claim to these waters. A Royal Naval unit had to intervene and order the ship to leave. British officials have called the incident an “unlawful maritime incursion.” A Spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office added “The Royal Navy challenges all unlawful maritime incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters – and did so again on this occasion.”
The situation has stoked fears that there may be a war between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar, which is strategically significant. Such a war would mark the first time that NATO countries have fought each other, and would likely tear the alliance apart. Fortunately, it appears that officials on both sides are making amends, and cooler heads are prevailing. At least for now.
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Contributed by Daniel Lang of The Daily Sheeple.
Daniel Lang is a researcher and staff writer for The Daily Sheeple – Wake The Flock Up!