Senior Foreign Office staff had a contemptuous attitude towards the citizens of the only British Overseas Territory in mainland Europe, according to a very punchy column by Crispin Black in The Week. He recalls how he represented the Cabinet Office at meetings about Gibraltar, attended by FCO types. ‘Their preferred formula for the 30,000 inhabitants of the Rock of Gibraltar – of mixed British, Genoese, Maltese and Jewish descent, but fiercely loyal to Her Majesty – was “the sweepings of the Western Mediterranean”. They thought it frightfully clever.’
Black also says that Gibraltar and the Falklands cannot be handed over to Spain and Argentina because those countries cannot be trusted to run them properly; but China presented no such problem in the case of Hong Kong. ‘Both countries have spent considerable time, energy and sheer spite over the last half-century being beastly to the inhabitants of Gibraltar and the Falklands respectively. Nothing could be more self-defeating.
‘Environmental vandalism has reared its ugly head again in 2012 with Argentine plans to overfish the South Atlantic’s stocks of Ilex squid – just to spite the Falklanders who derive a handsome income from catching them when they migrate into their territorial waters.’