Letter: Now for the next redundant remnant of empire

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Sir: Now that the Hong Kong handover is behind us let us clear away another anomaly of our erstwhile Empire. I refer to the ludicrous situation of a piece of limestone at the western end of the Mediterranean - yes, Gibraltar. The place has been a smugglers' haven and a day-trippers' paradise, displaying the worst traits of its principal begetters, the Spanish and English.

The population of 30,000 having had the best of both worlds, certainly for the past 40 years, demand their right to remain British (whatever that may mean in an EU context). Gibraltar considers it is part of the EU, by association with the UK, yet it imposes no VAT and does not feel it can co-operate with its neighbouring EU member, Spain, over commonsense matters like sharing the facilities of its UK-built airport. It can never be viable on its own and in its de facto autonomous state remains an irritant to the UK, to Spain and even to the EU.

In the the new political atmosphere prevailing since 1 May, let Whitehall make it clear that the present impasse, which is souring relations between the UK and Spain, can no longer be sustained. I would suggest a 50-year period of adjustment such as Hong Kong will have, but with either Britain and Spain sharing responsibility or, better still, under the auspices of the EU. Let the ghosts of history rest in peace.


Brentford, Middlesex