Bossano: ‘I have never trusted Spain’

Mark Viales

THE Panorama interview

As the hanging cloud of Brexit agony looms ever closer towards the Rock, the increasing fear of a cliff-edge hard Brexit scenario has left Gibraltarians facing a potential dark future.

Following on from yesterday’s major interview with Sir Joe Bossano, Minister for Economic Development, the robust socialist showed concern on Spain’s underhand political tactics in attempting to reclaim the Rock. Furthermore, we asked the former Chief Minister about his views on full independence and the tug-of-war between the UK and Gibraltar over constituent powers.

• While Spain may have shown a change of tone in some regional forums, at a higher level they were plotting to encroach into Gibraltar’ sovereignty. Can we trust the Spanish?

There is no question about trusting Spain. I have never trusted them. Peter Caruana trusted them. He was the one who said to us ‘you cannot cherry pick the Cordoba agreement’. They didn’t cherry pick, they just plucked the tree out of the ground and threw it in the bin. The reality is that the fact that we do something with the socialist government is no guarantee that it will be honoured when the Partido Popular come in. The only theoretical advantage by having an agreement with the PP is that one assumes that there is nothing worse than them.

We have to work on the basis that we do not want to be seen as the people who are the negative party in all of this. I do not believe in the concept of red lines, except for the colour, but it is a question of standing for certain principles, which are very simple. We do not accept Spain’s description of us as a collection of imported camp followers as if we were in Guantanamo Bay. This is the description of the fascist Spanish Foreign Minister in the 1960s to the United Nations. The reality is that Spain lost this place and a lot of others as a result of a 30-year war.

If there was something sacrosanct about 1704, places that have long ceased to exist in Europe as sovereign nations would have to be restored. The past is finished and we cannot go back to it. The time will come eventually when there will be a culture in Spain of learning to live in harmony with Gibraltar, but that culture is not there anymore. It has been there sporadically, depending on the composition of the Spanish structure of power. Spain, in my view, has been leaning more to the right than any other direction. We would be very foolish to trust people like that.