Between a rock and a hard place

Gibraltar has become the first crisis hotspot as the Brexit negotiations get underway '“ scarcely before the ink has dried on the letter Theresa May wrote, triggering Article 50.

Tuesday, 4th April 2017, 9:20 am
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:25 pm
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

But the political hotheads should all cool down.

Both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, have made clear that the UK has no intention of giving up The Rock to Spain unless the inhabitants of Gibraltar say they would prefer to live under Spanish rule – an outcome that is highly unlikely.

And Lord (Michael) Howard, a former Tory leader, has gone a stage further by saying that May would be as firm about Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher was over the Falklands – a comment that has been regarded as saying there would be a willingness to go to war over the issue. This is scarcely the best way for these long and difficult Brexit negotiations to start. Let us hope everyone calms down before things get out of hand.

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- The grumpy behaviour of the Parliamentary Labour Party towards Jeremy Corbyn in the Commons is damaging the party and is disconcerting to their leader. They should snap out of it.

You might think Corbyn’s position could scarcely get any worse now that the New Statesman magazine, long regarded as the Labour Party Bible, has launched an attack on him and his leadership.

Corbyn has been the target of brickbats from all quarters, yet he soldiers on manfully. But his position could be improved by a change in attitude by the Parliamentary Labour Party. At the moment, during Prime Minister’s question time in the Commons, they largely sit there stony-faced, not offering even a squeak of support for their leader. They seem to have no idea what a negative effect it must have on Corbyn.

The worst culprit is probably Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, who sits alongside Corbyn. Corbyn has twice legitimately been elected leader and deserves the support of his deputy at the very least. It is beginning to look as though he is deliberately hostile towards the leader he should be backing. No wonder the Labour Party is in such dire straits.