Gibraltar: A Tax Haven Not a Nation 885

There are 32,000 Gibraltarians organised into 11,400 households. Extraordinarily there are more registered companies than households, including 8,464 registered offshore companies.

The Government of Gibraltar’s own website is notably candid about its tax haven activities. It urges you to establish there so you can take advantage of:

Highly-developed business services infrastructure where it is possible to passport an EU licence in financial services such as insurance and re-insurance, EU-wide pensions, banking and funds administration, amongst others.
Distribute competitively priced VAT-free goods and services to the markets of the EU and Africa.
Conduct business in a quality low-tax jurisdiction with a profit oriented capital base at low levels of corporate tax, all in a stable currency with few restrictions in moving capital or repatriating dividends.

It is no wonder Gibraltar voted 96% pro-EU. Its entire economy rests upon the use of its anomalous status to undercut the tax regimes of genuine EU members. Remarkably for a population the size of Ramsgate, there are 17 registered banks in Gibraltar, including Credit Suisse, the money laundering giant raided by combined European police forces yet again yesterday, and RBS/Natwest’s tax avoidance entity.

Gibraltar was occupied by England (yes, England) in 1704 when it was sacked by the Hessian Prince George (wry smile Hessian – sacked) and 90% of the Spanish population fled after being subjected to mass rape.

Britnats have been all over twitter this last 24 hours shouting that Gibraltar was given to Britain “in perpetuity” by the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. Thankfully the world has changed since 1713. The Treaty of Utrecht also gave Brazil to Portugal, much of Italy to the Hapsburgs and gave Britain the monopoly on the shipping of African slaves to South America. Thankfully none of those turned out to be perpetual and the British occupation of Gibraltar is equally immoral and anachronistic. That the Foreign and Commonwealth still quotes the Treaty of Utrecht is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of the British government’s position.

There is a key point here. Empires cannot cloak their continued Imperial possessions under the “right of self-determination” of Imperial client populations. Still less is there a “right of self-determination” for an entire Imperial client population to leech off tax avoidance activities by virtue of their Imperial possession status. The right of self-determination does not apply to the colonists of Gibraltar, who like the Falklanders are an introduced Imperial population – contrary to myth the large majority of Gibraltarians are not descended from the original Spanish population. Gibraltar is plainly listed by the UN as a Non Self Governing Territory. Self-determination is not applicable in international law. UN General Assembly Resolution 2353 specifically asserted that Gibraltar is a colony which impinges on the territorial integrity of Spain and thus on Spanish right to self-determination, and that a referendum of the colonial population could not change that.

Britain’s fervidly jingoistic attempts to hold on to its remaining colonies are pathetic. I have a memory as a very small child of watching Rolf Harris on TV dressed in union jacks singing “Please Don’t Alter Gibraltar” to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory. Google has just reassured me this really happened and was not a nightmare. I now realise from the timing that was a riposte to the UN General Assembly discussions. That it was Rolf Harris gives the perfect pointer to the grossly immoral British position on Gibraltar.

Ironies abound.

Irony 1
It is the Little England Brexiteers who are frothing at the mouth over the EU saying it will take heed of Spain’s position on Gibraltar – despite the fact the Gibraltarians voted 96% in favour of the EU.
They cry, how dare the EU take into account the position of the United Nations and of its member state, Spain, against what will be a non-member state? Who could have seen that coming?

Irony 2

Gibraltarians of course voted in favour of the EU in order to benefit from the opportunity to continue undermining EU tax regimes.

Irony 3

The Daddy of them all. The Britnats who crowed repeatedly at Scots, extolling alleged (and improbable) Spanish desire to veto Scottish EU membership, are shocked, shocked that Spain may veto a Brexit settlement over Gibraltar.

Anyway, to cheer up you Britnats, here is a picture of the massive audience for Theresa May’s recent Glasgow speech. Dressed as Rolf Harris. Altogether now “Please Don’t Alter Gibraltar”.

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885 thoughts on “Gibraltar: A Tax Haven Not a Nation

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  • reel guid

    Altogether now “Oh what an atmosphere, I love a party with a happy atmosphere”.

  • Dr Awesome MD

    Britnats? So it follows that Craig must be a Scotnat?

    Now where did I put that gnat spray!

  • mickc

    The “right to self determination” must surely be absolute, if it has any meaning at all. Disappointingly, you seem to want only the “right sort” of the “right to self determination”.
    Spain has always played the Gibraltar situation badly; instead of threats, it should have offered inducements, and pointed out advantages.
    Regrettably, the EU seems of similar mindset with regard to Brexit. I very much regret the EU developed as it has; it could indeed have been a great project, rather than the standard authoritarian Civil Law state.

    • craig Post author

      It can’t be absolute. Or you would have the “Passport to Pimlico” situation springing up everywhere.

      • Martinned

        If they are too small to have their own country, that doesn’t explain why we should ignore the inhabitants’ wishes when deciding which country they ought to belong to. Frankly I can’t think of anything else that might be relevant for that question.

        • Mateo Calafat

          There are more than half a million British citizens living in Spain, I don’t think the Spaniards will have much problem accomodating 30.000 more. Nobody wants the British Gibraltarians to give up their nationality.

      • mickc

        But it doesn’t, does it? Indeed, Scotland exercised its right to choose independence and rejected it.
        The Passport to Pimlico situation will only arise where a people have no community of interest with the state of which it is part.

      • Dr Awesome MD

        Is that the same Hapsbugs, Craig, who ruled Spain? As in these Hapsburgs?

        “The kings who ruled Spain and its empire from 1516 for almost 200 years during the most glorious period in its history frequently married close relatives such as nieces and first cousins. This in turn led to ill health and a high rate of infant and child mortality.”

        So are you actually in favour of these inbreds? Should Gibraltar have been under their control?

      • Martinned

        Again you’re conflating the UN with the UN General Assembly, whose words have no legal effect whatsoever.

        To put this in internet-meme language: UNSC resolution or GTFO.

        • Mateo Calafat

          So what? They may be not binding, that doesn’t mean their principles are wrong, and they speak volumes about a country which does not follow them.

    • lysias

      People can’t admit that the right to self-determination is absolute, as that would mean secessions must be allowed that the powers that be cannot admit the rightness of: the Palestinians from Israel/Palestine, Biafra from Nigeria, the American South from the United States.

        • Mateo Calafat

          It seems you don’t feel very confortable with me linking that UNGA resolution. 🙂
          Good news is that there four more UNGA resolutions on Gibraltar, all in favor of Spain.

  • Robert Pennington

    Perfect! But wasn’t the picture of the “Scottish” Tories’ conference rather than May’s speech?

  • Kempe

    So the rights of the inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are not tax exiles, count for nothing? Slightly at odds with the stance on Diego Garcia.

    • Old Mark

      Good point Kempe

      The Chagossians are also to use Craig’s formulation ‘an introduced colonial population’ being in the main African slaves relocated to Diego Garcia from Mauritius.

  • Pete

    “contrary to myth the large majority of Gibraltarians are not descended from the original Spanish population”

    Where’s your source for that, Craig? The few Gibraltarians I’ve ever met looked very much Spanish or even North African.

    Incidentally the word “original” is pretty meaningless where it comes to human populations, as few if any human groups “originated” ie evolve from apes in the locations where they’re now living.

  • Pete

    “Origin of surnames in the electoral roll by percentage is: British (27%), Spanish (26%, mostly Andalusian but also some 2% Minorcan), Genoese and other Italian (15%), Portuguese (15%), and Maltese (8%)”

    From Archer, Edward G “Gibraltar Identity and Empire”

    Gibraltarians also have their own language which is mainly based on Spanish but with lots of English, Genovese and Hebrew added.

    Over 70% of them are Catholocs which certainly doesn’t support the notion that they’re all English colonists imported in the 18th Century.

    • craig Post author

      Where did I say they are English? The evidence you cite says 26% Spanish. Precisely as I said, the large majority are not Spanish but imported by the British. I did not say they were British.

      • Alcyone

        So there were no such ‘imports’ before the British arrived? Or were they exported thereafter?

        • Alcyone

          I think you’ve put your finger on it.

          Why would Craig not want these people to determine their own choice if it comes to it? Is he sucking up to the Spanish?

  • Pete

    Anyway Gibraltar has been British for longer than it was Spanish, the Kingdom of Spain only finally conquered it in 1462, before then it was Arab/Berber, before that Visigothic, before that Roman, etc etc.

  • Republicofscotland

    “That the Foreign and Commonwealth still quotes the Treaty of Utrecht is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of the British government’s position.”


    Well the Tories can go back much further than that, if it suits them that is, they’ve cited Henry VIII th clause from 1539, as a template, to do the same with EU laws coming back to Britain.

    The Tories also tried to force the Brexit bill through, and in the process avoid parliamentary scrutiny, by citing some archaic royal perogative as a bench mark.

    Interestingly, Gibraltar is named in Arabic Jabal Tariq, after the Muslim commander Tariq Ibn-Ziyad. He turned the rock into a fortress in 711 A.D, and it has been an important naval base for more than 1,000 years.

    • Martinned

      Yeah, can you believe the FCO’s moral bankruptcy. And Gina Miller too, citing the Bill of Rights. (Which is even older.)

  • Kempe

    I would dispute the claim that Gibraltar voted to remain within the EU purely to remain a tax haven. Spain joining the EU eased the pressure on Gibraltar no end, the border had to be opened and Spain had to back off its military. In response the British military presence in Gibraltar was stood down which whilst it hurt the local economy did free up a lot of much needed housing.

  • Republicofscotland

    I read recently that quite a few Spanish people travel over from Spain into Gibralter to work there, mainly in the service industries. One wonders how that will be affected after Brexit is concluded?

    • Kempe

      That was certainly the case the last time I was there. Border restrictions could cause them a lot of problems.

  • Alcyone

    Meanwhile the Catalonians have decided that they shall be phasing in the Pound Sterling as their currency.

  • Paul Barbara

    The huge audience gives an indication of just how much May is appreciated ‘North of the Border’.

  • Republicofscotland

    The two Union Jack clad ladies in the front row of the picture, who are listening intently, are the sister of Theresa May (left) and the sister of Ruth Davidson (right).

    Bear in mind that, this is April Fools day, says I tongue in cheek. ?

  • Chip

    Very correct and balanced/objective article. Of course the Brexiteers will manipulate again the nude facts to lie and influence on a very ill informed population.

  • Douglas


    I know we shouldn’t assume that everything that happens in the world is related to us but might there be a convergence of objectives in the EU position on Gibraltar (killing two birds with one stone).

    I wonder if this is actually very subtle work by our friends in Europe.

    Picture them considering their negotiating position:

    We would REALLY like to do something that shows support for Scotland but we can’t interfere with internal affairs of a member state…

    An idea!

    Spain is very keen to sort out Gibraltar and the UK Govt have been talking all sorts of rubbish about Spain vetoing Scottish membership. Let’s help our Spanish fellow EU citizens and Scotland by showing the UK what the REAL Spanish veto looks like… two problems one solution… no rules broken… neat.

    (quiet smiles and nods all round… and nothing in the minutes).

    You know more than I do about these types of discussions, I’m sure the Spanish objective is the more important issue for the EU… but maybe the implications for Scotland are more than just a happy accident.

  • Sharp Ears

    Fabian Picardo QC Chief Minister Gibraltar – ‘The Spanish government is rancid and mediaeval’.

    As quoted by Matt Frei on LBC earlier. LBC are of course very pro ‘More British than the British’ Gibraltarians.

    Here is Picardo on Sky News.

    Gibraltar will be ‘even more British’ after Brexit, says chief minister Picardo
    The territory’s chief minister hits out at Spain’s “unhealthy obsession” and says ‘the Rock’ will remain “entirely British”.

    A strangely empty Wikipedia page?? It says ‘Page issues’

  • bevin

    The important question is, surely, that Gib is a rathole for spivs. Rather like Eire or Luxemburg. It is one of a large number of such money laundering tax avoidance facilities provided by HMG, part of a network centred on the City.
    The rapidly disappearing NHS is part of the price being paid for retaining these expensive territorial trinkets for oligarchs and kleptocrats to play with.
    Still, I can see the point of those Gibraltarians who have no desire to be ruled by Spain.

    • Martinned

      Wait, it is HM Government’s fault that Ireland is an independent country? I’m sure that would be news to Michael Collins…

  • LordSnooty

    So governments spout tendentious codswallop to support whatever position happens to suit them at the time.

    What else is new?

    • Martinned

      Nothing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to rub their noses in it. Jon Stewart made a good living doing that for years.

  • Mateo Calafat

    The United Nations doctrine is very clear about the status of Gibraltar. It is a colonial territory with NO right to self-determination since it destroys the territorial integrity of Spain (see UN Res 2353 and 2429).
    I would also like to point out that the Treaty of Utrecth (article X) ceced the propriety of Gibraltar forever, BUT it did so (and I quote verbatim): “without any territorial jurisdiction and without any open communication by land with the country round about.” Therefore, without territorial jurisdiction there are no territorial waters.

  • Martinned

    Yeah, that’s something only someone who lives on an island could come up with. Who should be in charge of what country a given bit of territory belongs to other than the people who live there? All populations are “introduced populations” if you go back far enough.

    Let’s take an example that doesn’t involve an intervening bit of (salt) water: Berwick on Tweed. Scottish or English? In 1746 they made a law to clarify that any law that referred to England also applied to Berwick. (Which may or may not be the same thing as annexing Berwick to England.) As late as the Crimean War they still mentioned Berwick separately. (Or maybe not:

    The same goes for Monmouthshire and Wales, except even more recently. For centuries some laws applied to “Wales and Monmouthshire” while others applied only to Wales. Only in 1974, at a time when the issue of how to draw the border of Wales was quite unimportant, did a bit of administrative rejigging permanently annex Monmouthshire to Wales. But as recently as the arguments over the Welsh Church Act the notion of sticking Monmouthshire in with Wales led to pitched battles in and outside Parliament.

    So who should decide where Monmouthshire and Berwick belong if not the people that live there? HM the Queen in Parliament, based on any reason She likes or no good reason at all? What objectively meaningful reason is there other than the wishes of the people who live there and their language, culture, etc.?

    The Falklands and Gibraltar are territories inhabited by a bunch of Brits who would very much like to be/stay British? What right does anyone else have to overrule that?

    • Harry

      Very good point, the writer of this article gives the impression that only the Spanish Govt. in Madrid has the right to decide the future of Gibraltar, even if it’s against those people’s wishes, without explaining why he feels the people of Gibraltar should be denied the rights that everyone else enjoys.

  • Phil the ex-frog

    The EU loves tax havens: such as San Marino, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Spain’s own Andorra. A 2015 list of tax havens didn’t even include Switzerland nor Luxembourg! No surprise considering Junker was the Luxembourg PM before he became president of the European commission.

    The EU, like all protectors of privilege, do not walk the walk when it comes to tax havens. Just like the British, Italian, French, German etc governments. Including, it appears. the Scottish.

    • Phil the ex-frog


      ” A 2015 EU list of tax havens didn’t even include Switzerland nor Luxembourg!”

  • Habbabkuk


    Since you are in de-colonialised Africa: any thoughts about the last European colonies in Africa, aka Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish) ??

    • Harry

      Also, what about all the French Overseas Territories, such as French Guiana? Or the American ones, like Puerto Rico, or the Northern Mariana Islands? Or what about the Danish ones like Greenland, or the Faroe Islands? Why only deny the people of Gibraltar their rights?

  • Sharp Ears

    ‘UK to withdraw from Eurovision

    Pink News gives a knowing nod to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union with the arguably more shocking revelation that the UK will also be pulling out of the Eurovision Song Contest!
    UK to withdraw from Eurovision, BBC announces
    — PinkNews (@PinkNews) April 1, 2017
    “PinkNews understands that the withdrawal will come into effect in the first few months of 2019, meaning the UK will have just two more shots at the trophy,” claims the LGBT+ news org.
    “Plans are afoot for Scotland to compete by itself.”‘

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