CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Gibraltar is just one of our unique connections

Gibraltar SUS-170604-120032001
Gibraltar SUS-170604-120032001
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Brexit really does throw up some scenarios, doesn’t it? On Friday, I had a very positive meeting with our language school leaders determined we’ll celebrate and enhance our position as a top destination for young internationals post-Brexit.

By Monday, Britain was allegedly declaring war on Spain over Gibraltar because of Brexit!

The reality is that negotiations with our EU partners, now set to begin in earnest after months of talking among ourselves, will take time and careful, considered steps, none of which lends itself to our hunger for breaking news - hence the crazy hoo-ha over Gibraltar.

But we’re definitely not going to war with Spain - or any of our friends and neighbours for that matter.

However, there will assuredly be more loose talk and bizarre headline grenades thrown about in the days to come.

Meantime, we must trust that serious people behind the scenes will be getting on with the business of securing our future deal and I’m sure this is the case.

Brexit does though shine something of a light on Britain’s place in world history, and Gibraltar, a ‘BOT’ or British Overseas Territory, enjoying a subtropical Mediterranean climate and a land border with Spain, is a perfect starter for ten.

Gibraltar is, in fact, one of our fourteen far-flung territories linking us back to an era of empire.

These territories are a mosaic of distinct cultural traditions, reflecting their world-wide locations, but common to all is recognition of UK sovereignty, acknowledgement of the Queen as the Head of State and British citizenship.

In Gibraltar, English is the language of government, commerce, education and the media.

In Pitcairn, by contrast, residents speak a mixed language of 18th century English dialect with Tahitian elements - fascinating!

Gibraltar, ceded from Spain to Great Britain in 1713, plays a significant role in UK security and British and U.S. submarines frequently visit.

Then, there’s the Commonwealth, that voluntary Union of 52 world-wide nations, mostly former British empire colonies or dominions, but perhaps that’s for another column!

However, our history and links to the world do have influence on our Brexit negotiations.

The EU will absolutely remain a pivotal trade partner but British goods exported to the EU fell eight per cent to a six-year low in 2015 while exports to non-EU countries were up.

While growth rates in the EU falter, many economies in the Commonwealth and wider Anglo-sphere are booming with IMF forecasts predicting its GDP will overtake the EU’s by 2019, because we would have left the EU.

Beyond the headlines, what might those unique connections mean to our future?