4 April 2017

Jeremy Corbyn is hamstrung over Gibraltar

Jeremy Corbyn can’t state the obvious on Gibraltar because he has gone along with Brexit.

At the end of March it became known that Spanish diplomats had succeeded in inserting a clause into the provisional treaty governing the transition after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019. The clause states that those transitional arrangements will only apply to Gibraltar if Spain agrees.The British Government which desperately needs a transitional agreement to prevent a cliff edge departure from the EU can neither veto nor opt-out; they just have take what they are given - or walk away with nothing.

Now whether the tax-haven Gibraltar is ruled by Britain or Spain doesn’t interest me, nor does the loss of international power by the British state. But there is a point here. The Brexiteers who are all British nationalists of one sort or another, claimed that EU departure was about ‘taking back control.’ Yet the reality, as highlighted by the Gibraltar issue, shows the exact opposite: a massive loss of ability for the British state to wield influence and control.

And, had Jeremy Corbyn continued to oppose Brexit after the referendum - of course mainly for reasons nothing to do with Gibraltar - he could have pressed home the point that power and influence are seeping away from Britain, and the Brexiteers’ triumphalism of a powerful, proud and independent nation is a mere delusion. But with Corbyn de facto co-sponsoring Brexit with the Tories, and inevitably falling into step with with the nationalist discourse that accompanies it, the Labour leader is hamstrung and can’t make the point.

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