If they had any sense, Remainers would get behind a war with Spain over Gibraltar

Even for those of us who are inclined to look at a map and think that Spain might be within its rights to find Gibraltar something of an irritation, well, a few Union Jack-draped coffins flying back from sunny Spain could quickly change that

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The Independent Online

Sod it, why not? Let’s just do it. Nice little war with Spain. What’s the worst that can happen? At least we’ll know where we are then.

It might seem like a careless course of action in these already uncertain times, but actually, a war with Spain could be just what this country needs.

And I don’t mean just the Brexiteers. Far from it. If anything, Remainers would enjoy it more.

It’s coming up for a full year now since the Brexit vote, and I can’t be the only one who has had enough of this constant unsettling feeling in the stomach. This staring into the void, this long slow voyage into the unknown. The anxiety, the interrupted sleep, the inescapable suspicion that the doors have been locked and the controls have been set for the dark heart of the sun, but not knowing how long it will take to get there. The almost certain knowledge that there’s an appalling accident waiting two years up the motorway, and yet on we accelerate towards it.

Well, a war with Spain straight out of the blocks would change all that. It would settle the nerves. As anyone who’s ever done a best man’s speech or a bungee jump will know, it’s all the waiting around that’s the worst bit, the interminable delay. What better way to quieten the foreboding over what dangers might loom over the horizon than an actual proper, right-here-right-now war with a first world European nation and fellow Nato member?

Spain tells Britain to calm down over Gibraltar dispute

So let’s just do it. 3...2...1...War with Spain.

The longer you think about it, the arguments against the War with Spain all start to fall away. To be against the War with Spain is to refuse to accept, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that the idiots have taken over. To oppose the War with Spain is to oppose democracy itself.

It might have started by accident. A former Conservative leader, Lord Howard, speaking to Sky News from his sofa on a Sunday morning, idly conflating Gibraltar and the Falklands, two "Spanish-speaking countries", two "woman Prime Ministers", the latter of whom would certainly "show the same resolve" as the former.

But the enlightened voices that have since obediently fallen in behind the War with Spain are the very same that won the referendum, and if remoaning Britain is serious about healing the divisions caused by Brexit, the War with Spain is a cause they cannot in good conscience fail to support.

After all, as Kelvin MacKenzie bravely pointed out to “the creeps running Spain” (his actual words) in The Sun this morning. “Could I remind them the locals have made clear in vote after vote that they don't want the donkey rogerers running their efficient little outpost”?

And if they won’t listen, MacKenzie has a number of bold policy suggestions right up to banning Spanish holidays for Brits and saying “Adios, Manuel” to the “125,000 Spaniards working in Britain”.

(Some people will inevitably say that he doesn’t actually mean any of this stuff, and is only saying it to draw attention to the third item in his weekly column, which yet again appears to me an utterly denuded shill for his own car insurance price comparison website, but these are the same voices that for too long have ignored the ordinary British people, and if Brexit didn’t get their attention, well the War with Spain will.)

Boris Johnson intervenes in Gibraltar sovereignty row

Most importantly, the War with Spain has the power to heal division. I have no evidence for this, but my strong suspicion is that the Gibraltar issue bisects the British popular imagination almost as cleanly as Brexit. It’s only a hunch but I reckon that for about, say, 51.9 per cent of people, the fact that there is a little speck of Spain which flies the Union Jack and has the Queen on its coins is a source of fierce pride. While for roughly 48.1 per cent of the population, it is something of an embarrassment.

How British people would feel were the situation reversed is impossible to know with any certainty as there is no sovereign dependency of a foreign nation on the British mainland, but given the imagined threat of foreign languages spoken on Nigel Farage’s train out of Charing Cross was cause enough for us to vote en masse to make ourselves poorer, it is not unreasonable for a few deductions to be made.

The War with Spain will settle this. Even for those of us who are inclined to look at a map and think that Spain might be within its rights to find Gibraltar something of an irritation, well, a few Union Jack-draped coffins flying back from sunny Spain could quickly change that.

If Brexit remains divisive, it's because, give or take a Pole on Harlow High Street, no one, really, has died for it yet. The War with Spain can help. As Peter Cook once said, we need a futile gesture at this stage.

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