Ed Miliband offered to sell the British territory of Gibraltar to Spain today.
In an interview this morning on Spanish news channel TVE Internacional, the leader of the Labour Party said that the U.K.’s control over the rock is a relic of imperialism and should be abandoned as soon as possible.
Miliband was in the studio to discuss Syria and the European economy, but the conversation soon turned to the increasingly heated argument between Spain and Britain over control of Gibraltar. When asked his opinion on the issue, he surprised the hosts with his candor.
“I just don’t know why we’re hanging on to that rock anymore, to be honest with you,” Miliband replied. “Frankly if I become prime minister I’d be happy to sell it to Spain for £1. Gibraltar is nothing but a monument to a capitalist bourgeoisie empire that thankfully we’ve mostly left behind.
“It’s terrible what Britain did to Spain. What kind of country invades someone else’s land, decimates the local population and the claims their territory as their own? The U.K. should be ashamed of itself.”
Gibraltar is a tiny, strategically-located territory near the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. It was ceded to Britain in 1713 following the War of Spanish Succession, but Spain has disputed its status in recent decades.
Although its strategic importance has diminished over time, the U.K. is officially committed to retaining control because its population has repeatedly voted to stay in British hands.
Playing the role of Devil’s Advocate, the hosts asked Miliband what he would do if Gibraltar’s residents voted against his plan to sell the territory. He dismissed outright the legitimacy of such vote.
“Don’t give me any of that ‘let the people choose’ nonsense,” he retorted. “The folks who live in Gibraltar now are neo-colonial occupiers who stole that land from hard-working Spaniards.
“What kind of scam is that? We’re gonna take your land, put someone else on it and then ask them if what we’ve done is proper … The only ones who should be deciding Gibraltar’s fate are the Spanish people.”
Miliband has led the U.K.’s Labour Party since September 2010. He previously served as secretary of state for climate change in the Gordon Brown government.