Andy McSmith's Diary: It’s time to stop invoking old treaties and let Gibraltar decide for itself

 

“Spain does not seem to be aware of the Treaty of Utrecht,” the Labour MP Jim Dobbin claimed, introducing a “debate” on Spain and Gibraltar in the Commons. I put “debate” in quotation marks, because the word implies a contest between different points of view. In the UK, politicians never actually debate Gibraltar: they assert that it is ours and that Spain should leave off. That message was repeated when the Spanish ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office.

But I suspect that the Spanish are well aware of the Treaty of Utrecht, signed in spring 1713. Though that treaty legitimised the British military occupation of Gibraltar, it clearly did not say the people living on the Rock had the right to decide who should govern them. It said that should Britain ever decide “to alienate therefrom the propriety of the said town of Gibraltar”, sovereignty would revert to Spain.

It would make more sense if British politicians stopped referring to the Treaty of Utrecht – which by the way also granted UK merchants the right to sell African slaves to Spain’s overseas territories – and stuck to the modern principle that it is for the people of Gibraltar to determine how they wish to be governed.

Vaz fails khat scan

The most surprising revelation to come out of the Commons today was from the mouth of the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz, who was born and spent his early childhood in Yemen. Being from Yemen, he had chewed the drug khat, he revealed.

Khat is a popular stimulant in parts of Africa and the Middle East, which until recently was legally imported and sold in the UK. It was banned by the Home Office earlier this year.

The effect of chewing khat is said to be similar to but less intense than snorting cocaine, though Keith Vaz claimed “it had no effect on me” – but then, not much does.

No selfies for Fallon

Somebody has had the wit to send a delightful Freedom of Information request to the Department of Energy. It asked for information on “the number of times Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Energy, has written official ministerial correspondence to Michael Fallon, minister in the Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills” and “the number of times Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Energy, has received official ministerial correspondence from Michael Fallon, minister in the Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills” and “a breakdown of the topics covered in this correspondence”.

The answer is that Michael Fallon has not written any official letters to himself. What a disappointment.

Pet hate or xenophobia?

Alex Perkins, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Canterbury and an obsessive Twitter user, is in trouble over the way he responded to news that Americans spend $330m (£205m) a year on spooky costumes for their pets. “And I thought I couldn’t hate them more,” he wrote. He has since claimed that when he wrote “them” he meant pets’ costumes, but a local woman who is half-American interpreted the tweet as meaning that he hates Americans. She has lodged a complaint with Canterbury Council’s chief executives.

My kingdom for a hearse

The absurd argument about where the bones of Richard III are to be interred is costing money. The Government spent £28,590 on legal fees up to the end of September, with costs still piling up, a written note in Hansard reveals.

A group of the ex-king’s descendants, who have formed a registered company called the Plantagenet Alliance, think he should be buried in York, and have gone to law to challenge the Government’s decision to leave it to Leicester University, who dug up his body.

This case has so annoyed the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, that he is looking into ways to prevent lawyers in future from making money out of what he calls “unmeritorious judicial reviews”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Data Capture / Telesales

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Front Of House Team Member

£16500 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

Recruitment Genius: Store Manager & Store Supervisor

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific