Gunboat diplomacy alive and well within the EU

Spain and England have a long history of going to war against each other but things have been quiet for some time. The last time Great Britain went to war against Spain was probably in the War of the Third Coalition from 1803-1806. The Spanish State under General Franco was officially non-belligerent during World War II.

David Cameron is still looking for his war like Thatcher found the Falklands and Tony Blair cynically used Iraq. Gibraltar is causing much sabre rattling and British warships have started rushing about (they haven’t got much else to do). But Cameron cannot really expect that he can engineer a suitable casualty-free, armed conflict around Gibraltar which can help him in the next election.

Daily Mail:

Westminster

HMS Westminster will set sail for Gibraltar on Monday -EPA via Daily Mail

A Royal Navy rapid reaction force is to set sail for Gibraltar on  Monday as tensions over the Rock continue to rise.

Ten vessels including the aircraft  carrier Illustrious, two frigates and support ships are heading to the waters off Gibraltar as part of an annual exercise.

But defence officials have revealed that three of them – the frigate Westminster and two support vessels – will call in at the British sovereign base at Gibraltar for three days, beginning on August 19.

In a show of force, the warships will practise ‘a range of operations’ including ‘deterring adversaries’.

Although diplomatic relations between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar have plunged into the deep freeze, the Ministry of Defence insisted that the mission, called Cougar ’13, is a long-planned exercise.

But senior government sources conceded that the timing is convenient since it will reassure the people of Gibraltar after Spain imposed draconian border checks in a  dispute over fishing.

And while the deployment could have been delayed to avoid upsetting the Spanish government, it was not.

A Whitehall source said: ‘The timing is not unhelpful. We could  have decided to call it off or divert it  away from Gibraltar to avoid offending  the Spanish. But there was absolutely no question of that

It is August and it is silly season and European Parliaments are on their summer vacations and politicians are afraid of not being in the public eye.

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