Jasmine Jenkins reports from Gibraltar: First we had a stand-off on the high seas, with about 30 Spanish fishing dinghies and some policemen from Spain and Gibraltar in their speedboats, popping up and down on the waves off the coast, glaring at each other intensely and demonstrating some pretty fancy manoeuvring. Lots of nervious smoking was involved as well, to give more drama to the proceedings. All part of the current crisis in relations between Spain and Britain over the ownership of Gibraltar.
And now a British warship has arrived in Gibraltar, HMS David Cameron, only joking of course, to flex a bit of military muscle even though, as I’ve been told by reliable people, there is no ammunition on it due to cuts in the military budget. Just sailors trained to assume threatening positions on deck and shout offensive things in Spanish and other languages. The ship, which incidentally is called HMS Westminster, is going to spend three exciting days in Gibraltar, proving beyond any doubt that the British government is standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of the territory, just like Foreign Secretary William Hague had promised. (Lovely man, Hague, if only he would have a slightly different tone of voice to make him sound manly.)
In case you have been busy sorting out your private life or doing a bit of gardening or DIY and missed the current crisis developing, let me fill you in on the details. It all started ages ago actually, with Spain hinting to Britain that it wants its Rock back, but tensions heated up last month when the Gibraltarian government, which consists of two people, decided to drop some concrete blocks into the sea off its coast, to save the marine life from the Spanish fishermen, who are too lazy to venture out to sea and were concentrating on the fishies at hand. And from then onwards it was all downhill, with border checks some lasting up to 5 hours introduced on the Spanish side making it a hassle for drivers to get to the Rock. (Incidentally, Gibraltar is not an island, as many people think, so you can actually reach it by car from Spain.)
The British Defence Ministry said that HMS David Cameron, ooops, sorry, HMS Westminster, a type 23 frigate if you’re keen to know all the exciting details, popped up in Gibraltar on its way to ‘pre-planned’ war games in the Mediterranean and the Gulf with other ships. But we, seasoned political observers, can read between the lines and see this as a show of force, probably approved by the Cobra committee chaired by Mr Cameron, over the phone from Cornwell, where he is currently planning his autumn reshuffle with his lovely wife SamCam. Sam, in case you don’t know this, helps her husband to come up with all sorts of policies, including the one on Syria, where she went on a fact finding mission and showed the locals a thing or two about power dressing. (She went to Lebanon actually but it was in connection with the Syrian refugee crisis so we might just as well say she went to Syria.) It was Sam, who told David to start saying that the British economy was growing by the day, and he did just that, and all of a sudden the statistics started to confirm his gut feeling and all the hacks followed suit.
But what of the Spanish government, you may be asking yourself, the one that is headed by Mariano Rajoy, who is a joy to look at for any woman with good taste in men, but not really faring all too well with running his once great nation? Well, Mariano, and I hope his wife will forgive me for calling him by his first name, the pesky ladies’ man, is battling corruption allegations at the moment and trying to keep his economy afloat, not very successfully in both cases I may add without a hint of sarcasm. So is it any wonder that Mariano is thanking his lucky start that he has a stand-off with Britain to deal with which is such a great distraction from the trouble at home. And if he could fund the money to put fuel into a Spanish navy warship, sending it to Gibraltar, then the crisis will be complete. Two military ships locked in a stand-off. Stuff of dreams, if you ask me.
The beauty of the current situation is that the crisis can run for ever basically, with both the Spanish and the British governments telling their respective domestic audiences that they can’t attend to matters of state when their national security is at risk. Yes, it’s a farce that keeps on giving.