Gibraltar Suffers an Identity Crisis as Brexit Breakup Looms
Matt Cardy/GettyIf it weren’t for the flags, and perhaps the bored-looking woman waving me through from behind plexiglass, I’m not sure I would have been able to tell you at what point I left Spain behind me. The border between La Línea de la Concepción and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is perhaps the easiest I’ve ever crossed, up there with Ireland’s border with the north and the one lying between San Diego and Tijuana (it’s only coming back the other way that renders the latter a waking nightmare). By the time I made it into town, however—a 15-minute walk across a Royal Air Force base—it was difficult not to know. One enters the city center through a tunnel, like Alice on her way to Wonderland, emerging into one of the strangest town squares in Europe: a Spanish plaza festooned with the Union Jack, its cervecerias replaced by wood-paneled ale houses, its tapas bars with fish ‘n’ chip shops. The sense of disorientation could not be greater were the running of the bulls to take place down Pall Mall. I am here because the ease of the border crossing may soon become a thing of the past. In March 2019, by hook or by crook, the United Kingdom will formally exit the European Union. It’s a disturbing thought for the 96 percent of Gibraltarians, or “Gibs,” who voted to remain in Europe on the not unreasonable grounds that they actually live in it. Like Northern Ireland, where the idea of a hard border with Europe is unthinkable (not least because it would seriously jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement), Gibraltar is one of those places the Brexiteers weren’t really thinking about when they won their slim majority two years ago, surprising even themselves. Read more at The Daily Beast.