The ever-mentioned Winston Churchill was once asked about the unity of Europe. The wise man in other things and a regular prophet in this one, replied: it is true, the unity of Europeans would be a very positive thing, unite.
Churchill was partly right, Europe, after the departure of the United Kingdom, which maintained a stubborn attitude since its incorporation in 1973, begins to be more united, its last steps show greater consistency and its practical federalism begins to be evident.
The most striking thing has been, lately, the demonstration of logistical power in the management of the coronavirus vaccine, also, his display of strength and European will has been shown in the firmness in the delivery of the recovery funds and the approval of the budgets. Against them they had, not only the shadow of Brexit and the calamity of the pandemic, there was something, perhaps worse, the plague of the rise of right-wing extremism, anti-European, with places conquered in Hungary and Poland, and enthusiastic followers even in Spain that was said moderate and pro-European. In an international environment led by a president, perhaps insane – pending diagnosis – but surely far-right, I mean Donald Trump, it did not help either.
What Churchill could not hope for is that the islanders’ exercise of imperial nostalgia was going to end up isolating them and crumbling their pride. The immediate request for French nationality by Boris Johnson’s father is almost an innocent but other consequences of the effective Brexit are not.
A newspaper from the capital headed a story stating that Scotland’s nationalist government was beginning to woo the EU for its return. Calling the Scottish government nationalist without not saying the same with the British-English government is already striking, but they are things brought to their own ground with the use of such a polysemic term. But, no, it is not a nationalist government, it is pro-independence.
In other words, Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister, believes, with her government, and with the majority of Scots, if a referendum is repeated, that the way to return to the EU is through independence.
In Northern Ireland, a constituent nation of the United Kingdom, like Scotland, they were not willing via Brexit to return to the exit box prior to the Good Friday Accords. No hard borders with the Irish Republic, today more European than ever. No glimpse of violence as a path to his political goals.
In the absence of electoral checks, Northern Ireland is much closer to reunification than to accompanying the English in their isolation from Great Britain. The long arm of the extreme Europhobic did not reach the other island. The Northern Irish, Catholic or not, said yes to the EU and do not want to go back.
Nor did Europhobia reach Gibraltar, now a British overseas territory and, previously, in the EU, “a European territory whose foreign relations correspond to a member state”. Gibraltarians decided almost unanimously to remain in the EU.
The Government of Spain has already succeeded in separating any decision on the future of Gibraltar’s relations with the EU from the agreement with the United Kingdom, with its last word as a golden vote. The political leaders of Gibraltar, its main minister, Fabian Picardo and his government, and the Government of Spain always worked in the line of not damaging the relations between the parties and, a concept renewed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, González Laya, creating spaces of collaboration and mutual progress. The government of Boris Johnson has had no choice but to accompany the journey and admit the future of the reality of Campo de Gibraltar.
The border and its symbol of separation, the Gate, have vanished. Gibraltar stays but for a British islander it will no longer be the same to come to the EU and not to Gibraltar. Gibraltar will look to Europe and will be in it through Spain. After the application of the Schengen Agreement and its acquis on the Rock, with the guarantee of the Kingdom of Spain, Gibraltar is more Europe than before and the United Kingdom, less Europe than ever. Churchill’s dream has partly been fulfilled but at the cost of making the UK unrecognizable.