Ever since the referendum campaign, sovereignty has been treated as a dirty word here in the UK. A word that would only be spoken without knowledge of meaning by mouth breathing nationalist and racist members of our populous. At least this seems to be the view from certain sections of the populous. This, however could not be further from the truth.
There will always be people who will latch onto any nationalistic excuse to be racist unfortunately, that much is true, however sovereignty has little to do with racism, and more to do with self determination, the ability to, as a nation, make your own choices and govern yourself.
As a Gibraltarian, sovereignty is extremely important to me, my entire life I have had to deal with Spain trying to claim sovereignty over Gibraltar, against the will of Gibraltar and it’s people. I have encountered aggression from both the Spanish police and populous, racism, assaults, threats and have even been spit on, all because of where I am from, all because Gibraltar wishes to remain British.
These are just things that have happened to me personally, Spain has throttled traffic through the border, and even shut the border in 1967, all to the detriment of it’s own people in La Liñea, and to the detriment of Gibraltar as well. During the closure of the border, Spanish military ships tried to enforce a blockade to ensure that vital necessities for life in Gibraltar was not reaching the nation, this included things like oxygen tanks for the hospital, and even food, this is just the tip of the iceberg in all honesty.
So why the history lesson you might ask, well it is to highlight just why sovereignty is so important both to myself and other Gibraltarians. All we have ever wanted is a chance to make our own laws, decisions and govern ourselves, as we do now, yet we live with the constant threat of having our neighbouring country trying to constantly place us under their rule, as if our voice did not matter.
There are some who voted for Brexit who felt the same, who felt that the EU had a larger say on the UK than they felt comfortable with, who wanted the UK to be able to set their own laws and not have laws imposed on them from Brussels. The departure from the EU for them, was an issue of sovereignty for them, an issue of self determination.
Over the last year, I have heard these people being called all names under the some, purely for voting for something that others didn’t agree with, for using their democratic right to vote for something they believed in. I have even seen it eschewed as Brexit being a blow to democracy, which is ironic considering that the same newspaper that said that. has even gone as far to suggest that it is antidemocratic for the UK to keep Gibraltar British, a sign of desire to keep the Empire, and that Gibraltar should be returned to Spain, against the will of it’s own people!
Democracy is about being allowed to make a choice, being allowed to have a voice, not every voice will cry in unison, not every result will be the outcome we desired, but we have to accept it. Sovereignty is about being allowed to make your own choice, to be able to govern yourself and be masters of your own fate. Both can be equally aligned, both can result in being masters of your own fate. Sovereignty has nothing do do with racism or being uneducated, but merely a desire to make our own choices as a nation.
The Spanish veto on Gibraltar’s fate over Brexit is a worrying one for Gibraltarians, and again we all state our desire to remain British, it is an attempt to corrode and completely remove our right to self determination, and our sovereignty, and our hope is that this veto is vehemently rejected and removed from the negotiations, for why if the EU is truly a democratic body, is a nation being given the right to rule over and decide the fate of another nation? This rejection of our right to self determination, our right to remain a sovereign state, who has chosen repeatedly over the years, to remain British. Sovereignty is not a dirty word, but rather the right to determine your own fate.
Until next time,