I for one will be pleased when the Royal Navy submarine Tireless leaves Gibraltar after her controversial 12 month stay in which her nuclear cooling system has been repaired.

As I have said before in this space, the British government could not have asked for a worst scenario to damage Anglo-Spanish relations. But it has also underlined some undertones which clearly demonstrate that Spain is not going to rest on the issue of sovereignty over Gibraltar and that it is an issue which is as apparent now as it was 50 years ago.

Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar may be “close friends” and Aznar has been criticised for courting the British PM in the midst of the Tireless incident. As many British commentators have said, certain sections of Spanish politics and the media have used the Tireless incident to inflame the Gibraltar question. As far as the Gibraltarians are concerned the Tireless is a question for Gibraltar and Britain, and no-one else. I was interested to see that the Minister for Europe Keith Vaz was criticised by a parliamentary committee for not being tough enough with Spain over the issue of Gibraltar. Handshakes and smiles between Prime Ministers may be one thing but the issue of Gibraltar will always be a blot on the landscape for Anglo-Spanish relations.

The Tireless incident may soon be coming to an end but if anyone thought that Spain had forgotten Gibraltar and was willing to overlook the Rock for the benefit of relations between the two countries, they were clearly mistaken.

Jason Moore

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