In yesterday's Guardian newspaper, journalist Stephen Moss recounted how he invaded a small isle off Ibiza and declared it British soil in an attempt to highlight Spanish hypocrisy over the Parsley Island and Gibraltar affairs. According to the newspaper after the fuss over Gibraltar and last week's Parsley Island debacle, it's time the Spanish were taught a lesson. So, dressed as Sir Walter Raleigh, and armed with a union flag and supplies from Harrods, Stephen Moss set off by pedalo from an Ibizan beach to claim the island in the bay. In yesterday's Guardian Moss recounted his invasion of the Isla de las Ratas (The Isle of Mice) but also asks the question how can it (Spain) go on harassing Gibraltar when it refuses even to discuss the status of Ceuta and Melilla, its Moroccan enclaves?
Moss continues its storming of Parsley Island, a few hundred metres off the Moroccan Coast, was the last straw. It was time to give the Spanish a taste of their own medicine. Moss and his accompanying photographer invaded the island by pedalo, once their lost luggage finally turned up, and decided to name the island Stilton Island. For inside the lost luggage was a stilton cheese along with the Walter Raleigh plumed hat, a megaphone, a tin of Harrods treacle biscuits, a diecast model of a Grenadier guard and a pot of thick-cut marmalade. Once installed on the island, Moss called the Foreign Office to inform them of the latest developments, that Britain has a new dependency. It is 7.30 on a Saturday morning and the sleepy duty officer, far from being elated, sounds rather bemused.
You couldn't call back on Monday, could you? she says. Is this the stuff of which empires are made? Eventually, Moss gets through to the Foreign Office which has its line worked out. I'm afraid you're about a hundred years too late, says a jovial spokeswoman. We are more into sharing rocks these days than owning them. You're out of fashion, he is told. So if the Spanish were willing to share the island, would you be interested? I ask. Quite possibly, she says. It would be a matter for discussion between the foreign ministers. What's the island called? she asks. Stilton, I reply proudly. As in cheese. Any chance of assistance in defending the island? I ask her. Nothing to do with us, she says. That's the MoD. But you could have a word in their ear, I suggest. What about that destroyer that was stuck on rocks? Moss enjoys little joy with the MOD, We can't do anything without Foreign Office say-so. Sorry, it's a political decision. Moss then calls the Guardia Civil and the office of diplomatic information to open talks, but no one there speaks English (how convenient!). The interior ministry, defence ministry and central police department all appear to have knocked off for the weekend. Spain is ripe for the taking: an Anglo-Moroccan expeditionary force could be in Madrid by tomorrow if the Foreign Office and MoD would buck their ideas up, Moss reports. We have a new territory in the Mediterranean, to set alongside Gib, and Spain has a new diplomatic headache. Your move, amigos.