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People Are Asking 'WTF Has Brexit Unleashed?' Amid 'War With Spain' And £500m Blue Passports

03/04/2017 5:15 AM AEST | Updated 03/04/2017 6:37 PM AEST

Politicians and commentators have reacted with anger and disbelief over a top Tory’s suggestion the UK should be prepared to threaten war with Spain, amid a flurry of eyebrow-raising stories that emerged on the first weekend after triggering Article 50.

Ex-Tory leader Lord Michael Howard’s suggestion Theresa May would go to war with Spain to “stand by” the people of Gibraltar prompted a backlash over Brexiteer “sabre-rattling”.

Lord Howard told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday the Government would adopt the same position as Margaret Thatcher took during the Falklands conflict in 1982, when British troops were sent to protect the overseas territory from Argentina’s military dictatorship.

Lord Howard repeated the comments on the BBC’s Sunday Politics. He later told Channel 4 News he was not advocating war, but added he saw “no harm in reminding them what sort of people we are”.

Madrid has repeatedly called for Gibraltar – which has been under British rule since 1713 - to be returned to Spain, and there are now fears the peninsula could be used as a bargaining chip as the EU and UK negotiate a trade deal.

The Conservative peer made the comments after the EU insisted any post-Brexit trade deal with the UK would not apply to Gibraltar unless Spain approved the measure.

Lord Howard’s comments came amid a series of provocative news stories and comment pieces over the weekend, including a Telegraph story quoting military experts signalling the UK could still “cripple” Spain.

And right-wing columnist Simon Heffer made a pitch for the UK to reject the metric system. 

Meanwhile, The Express reported the UK could be set to return to navy blue passports following Brexit for a bargain £490 million.

Most of the reaction on social media focussed on the aggressive rhetoric taken by Lord Howard and the Brexit-supporting press.

There was a suggestion this re-framed what kind of Brexit the UK was attempting.

And the realisation the campaign among market stall holders and greengrocers in the 1990s for the return to imperial measures is poised to be revived.

But some thought Lord Howard’s comments had been blown out of proportion.

And politically, the PM and Gibraltar’s Chief Minister attempted to put on a show of calm.

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