The debate over the Tireless has revived another, larger debate--over the political status of Gibraltar. To Britain, Gibraltar is officially an "overseas territory." The United Nations considers it a "non-self-governing territory." The Spanish consider it a colony, and they want it back. Despite years of Gibraltar-related bickering between Britain and Spain, over issues ranging from fishing rights to drug smuggling and money laundering, there have been few high-level talks about Gibraltar's status. The last round occurred in 1999. The controversy over the Tireless could well jump-start another.
The Marines from 45 Commando had planned to sweep on to the beaches of Gibraltar in two landing craft as part of a training exercise. They were armed with SA80 rifles and mortars, although without live ammunition.
However, whether through faulty map-reading or poor visibility, they arrived in the Spanish fishing village of La Atunara. It took two local policemen to point out that Gibraltar was actually a little further down the coast.
In 1713 Gibraltar has ceded by Spain to Great Britain. It's ongoing status as a British colony has been a sticking point between the two countries recently, with possible resolutions including transfer back to Spain or self determination.