Could domestic turmoil sparked by the Barcenas case affect the Spanish government’s response to the Gibraltar challenge? Newspaper El Mundo last weekend published what it described as actual payroll cheques of Luis Barcenas, former finance chief at the People’s Party led today by Mariano Rajoy. If the date on them is right, it would prove that Barcenas, accused over several corruption and fraud practices, was still hired months after Rajoy won the general elections and became the country’s prime minister.
On August 1, Rajoy said before the Congress that Barcenas had been fired before the party was elected to govern Spain. Now, the prime minister faces a crisis of confidence that may weaken his political actions.
In the Gibraltar conflict, that would be a shame. The current mini-drama would be the perfect occasion to fix Spain’s uneasy cohabitation with a tax haven and a platform for illegal trafficking, which some Gibraltarians profit from but undermines Spanish interests.
Spain’s hand in the game looks clever, or at least less inept than the UK’s… “The Navy’s force led by HMS Illustrious and including two frigates will sail for the Mediterranean on Monday at the start of a four-month deployment,” The Daily Telegraph reported, “Three ships including the frigate HMS Westminster are due to stop later this month in the port amid a standoff with Madrid over punitive border checks for visitors to Gibraltar. The visit was announced two days after Gibraltar’s chief minister demanded that warships be sent to stop Spanish incursions into the Rock’s territorial waters.” That is a terrible mistake. What will prime minister David Cameron do next? Nothing, obviously.
On the contrary, the Spanish government is enforcing the law–a law that the British government has signed. Madrid, unlike London, still has the option of increasing its pressure without pointless nationalistic antics–Spain, let’s say this for the British people’s sake, does not intend to reconquer Gibraltar.
Gibraltar needs Spain more than Spain needs Gibraltar. Spain recognises the strategic value of Gibraltar for the UK in terms of defence, but London must implement the British and European laws in Gibraltar.