by Henry Hill
Friday, 19
March 2021
Idea
17:06

Why Gibraltar should join the United Kingdom

Boris Johnson could be the first PM to expand the UK since Pitt the Younger
by Henry Hill
If Gibralta is British, shouldn’t we officially invite them to join the UK?

Yesterday, Matt Hancock reported to Parliament the following words from Fabian Picardo, the First Minister of Gibraltar: “The United Kingdom has played a blinder on vaccinations and we have been among the beneficiaries in the British family of nations.”

News that the Rock has successfully vaccinated its entire adult population is obviously welcome. But Picardo’s phrasing raises an interesting question: is Gibraltar a British nation? And if so, isn’t it time we treated it like one and invited it to join the United Kingdom?

British nationhood is a complicated concept. There are plenty who deny it exists, and insist that the Union is simply an economic and political arrangement — a sort of miniature predecessor to the European Union.

A more historically-informed view is that there is certainly such a thing as the British nation, as the millions of people who report themselves ‘British only’ on the census attests, but that it has often expanded beyond the borders of the UK.

The sense of obligation the Government is displaying towards Hong Kongers, and before them the East African Asians, demonstrates this; as does the persistence of the Union Flag in the official symbols of the other ‘CANZUK’ nations of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

But if it is possible to be comfortably British without formally being part of the UK, why ought Gibraltar to consider it? There are several strong arguments.

First, representation. Parliament currently acts for Gibraltar in certain areas, and a Member of Parliament could represent the Rock when the House of Commons considers those issues. This need not be accompanied by any diminution in the powers and responsibilities of the Gibraltarian government and parliament — an expansive devolution settlement could be part of any treaty of union.

Formally joining the UK would also ‘normalise’ Gibraltar’s position in international law, giving it status analogous to that of France’s overseas departments and making it harder for Spain to exert pressure on it.

(The current international system is weighted against British arrangements — it is telling that the UK is regularly raked over the coals for its Overseas Territories whilst France has held on to an entire Latin American country without anybody really objecting.)

On London’s side, the appeal is even more obvious. By showing a bit more imagination than his mid-century predecessors who rejected Malta’s bid to accede to the Union, Boris Johnson could become the first Prime Minister to oversee an expansion of the United Kingdom since Pitt the Younger. (Rockall doesn’t count.) What better rebuke to those who insist that the country is doomed to fall apart?

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  • Immigration is mainly for the benefit of those that seek labour at below market rate. Think about the Muslims brought over to work in the textile mills of Northern England to give the mill owners a few extra years of profits before they went to the wall anyway.
    The profits of immigration are privatised – taken by the mill owners and banked. The long term costs, both economically and socially are then passed to the state and rest of the population to deal with forever. Cultural problems, crime, educating and housing these people, more pressure on housing stock, schools, medical services etc.
    Looking back, the mills ended up losing all their money anyway – so hardly anyone gained, and everyone was a loser.
    There is a good argument for bringing people in who benefit the wider society around them and the country as a whole. And so it does matter from which culture they come from, and it does matter what their religion is and their skills are.
    Using that qualification, why take illiterates from Africa and the Middle East who follow violent religions and come from violent cultures.
    We should be bringing Taiwanese instead and forming our own semi conductor industry. That would benefit everyone involved – and i suspect in 30 years we wouldn’t have to suffer from Taiwanese Grooming Gangs or Taiwanese Inner city gangs.

  • Not to mention the families in Rotherham, Leicester, Luton, Telford, etc etc.

  • Logically you are correct, but emotionally not.
    The Gibraltarians are fanatically British, and whilst it maybe pragmatic to throw them to the Spanish, it would be morally indefensible.

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