Brexit has been wreaking havoc on financial markets, that much is undisputable. Out of the main spotlight, however, are Britain’s overseas territories, which are now more vulnerable than ever. Most alarmingly, Spain has demanded joint sovereignty over Gibraltar, with an eventual goal of taking it back. So on Monday Gibraltar began talks with Scotland to discuss the possibility of remaining part of the E.U. — and its common market — even as the U.K. pulls out.
“That means that we don’t have to apply again for access, we simply remain with the access we have today, and those parts that leave are then given a different sort of access…” said Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister. In contrast to England where 54% voted to leave, Gibraltar voted 95% to remain part of the E.U., and Scotland voted 62% to stay as well. Picardo also indicated that Northern Ireland (in which a majority voted to remain) could be part of any arrangement staying with the E.U.
This sounds a lot like the breakup of the U.K. Whether or not it comes to anything is still up in the air. But at least those areas are geographically part of Europe, and have a possible salvation. The same cannot be said of the Falkland Islands, which Argentina claims sovereignty over. The far-flung British-controlled islands in the South Atlantic cannot just ditch the U.K. and join Europe, and the proud English-speaking population is unlikely to ever take Argentine sovereignty voluntarily.
Some are worried that Argentina might view Brexit as a sign of weakness and try to take the Falklands back. But the last time that Argentina underestimated the U.K. (with the military junta thinking that a female leader, Margaret Thatcher, didn’t have the spine for a fight), it was roundly defeated. Violence is off the table now. But if Gibraltar, Scotland, and Northern Ireland go, it’s hard to see how Britain could hang on to any overseas territories amid heavy pressure.