As we all know well over 90% of Gibraltarians voted to Remain within the EU. Having your cake and eating it comes to mind since well over 90% voted in a referendum to Remain in UK !
Lets be clear what Gib is and is not. In years gone by when the strength of your Navy was significant, especially when you had an Empire to manage and protect, then being able to contril the Gib Straits was important and worth fighting about. Methods of modern warfare have greatly reduced this kind of importance. So it is Not the strategic navel base of old.
Such is the topography of Gib that one would have trouble even raising a herd of mountain goats on it! Gib’s own website gives us a few very good clues as to what Gibraltar Is in the 21st century. From their own website ” Highly developed business services imfratructure where it is possible to passport an EU licence in finacial sevices…….. distribute competitively priced VAT-free goods and services to the markets of the EU and Africa. Conduct bussiness in a quality low-tax jurusdiction….. low levels of corporate tax. and few restrctions in moving capital or repatriating dividends”. To help provide such a wondeful range of services there are 17 registered banks, including the recently (March 2017) raided money laundering giant Credit Suisse, and RBS/Natwest’s exposed tax avoidance offices.
A perfect description of a modern Tax Haven, where there is a registered off-shore company for every 4 Gibraltarians. Population 32,000, off-shore companies 8,464.
In a nutshell, it provides a service to well heeled companies and individuals to avoid or minimise paying their fair share of tax in their own country, ie. it robs other countries’ Governments of badly needed income to provide vital services to their citizens. The funds in question may have been earned legally or illegally eg. drug running, people trafficking, or any other profitable criminal activity. Of course they are not on their own (BVI, Cayman, Jersey, IoM, Bermuda, City of London, IFSC,Dublin etc) in providing such services which most of us have become much more informed about and have come to understand the damage they do in both the developed world and developing world.
The political side of the discussion is often clouded by referencing the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, in which Gib was given “in perpeptuity” to England. In fact it was occupied by the Hessian Prince George in 1704 and 90% of the Spanish population fled after being subjected to mass raping and pillaging.
The much mentioned treaty of 1713 was in fact a collection of treaties between various European powers whereby the victors were dividing up the spoils of recent wars. Many, indeed most, of the areas covered in the Treaty are no longer recognisable in the modern world 300 years on. EG. Englsnd was granted an exclusivity on the shipping of African slaves to Spanish colonies; much of present day Italy was given to the Austrian Hapsburgs; most of Brazil was given to Portugal; the little duchy of Savoy was given Sicily. There is virtually nothing of this Treaty recognisable in the 21st century,,,, but the UK Foreign Office frequently cite it as one of the main reasons that Gib must remain a part of the UK !
The UN General Assemly Resolution 2352 specifically asserts “that Gibraltar is a colony which impinges on the territorial integrity of Spain and thus on Spanish right to self-determinationand that a referendum of the colonistscould not change that.”
Of course in the referendum 95% voted to stay within UK and within the EU, naturally ‘cos this gives greatest access to those who wish to use their Secrecy Jurisdiction/Tax Haven services.
As a member of England’s oldest colony I may just have a slightly tainted viewpoint, but to be truthful whether The Rock is part of UK, Spain or is Independent is of less concern to me than the ending of the tax avoidance/evasion services and other facilities which support and add to the growing inequality in our world, both locally and internationally.
We all need to exposed and object to this financial cancer which is incubated and fostered in such juisdictions.