20 APRIL 1939, Page 20

THE NEXT STEP IN SPAIN

[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR] S1R,—I have recently had a conversation with an individual who is in a position to know what is happening in Spain, and it occurred to me that your readers might be interested in his prophecies of what will take place in the early future. Far from expecting an orderly withdrawal of Italian troops and technicians and a closer understanding between Britain and France and Nationalist Spain, he anticipates that the next move will be a series of territorial demands by General Franco as the price of friendship.

The first demand will be for the repeal of the Treaty of Utrecht, through which Great Britain originally gained the possession of Gibraltar ; and the second will be for a total revision of the Pact of Algeciras, thereby to regain French Morocco and the Port of Tangier. A further claim will. be for the region of Oran, a former Spanish outpost, now part of France's African possessions.

These demands, he said, will not be made without the customary totalitarian threat of force. The coast of Morocco, the Balearic and Canary Islands, and Sierra Carbonera (which dominates Gibraltar and is already referred to as the "Spanish Djibuti ") have been heavily fortified ; a network of military aerodromes has been established by the Nazis in the Basque country from which lightning air-raids could be launched against the French armament-producing centres and the South of England ; while submarine bases have been estab- lished in such parts as Bilbao, Pasajes and Vigo, to impede defensive assistance by sea.

The date-line he suggests for this Spanish crisis is when, by not so strange a coincidence, both the Italian troops will be in full force for the triumphant march on Madrid and the German fleet will be undertaking spring manoeuvres off the West coast of Spain.

The person who gave me this information was perhaps biased, for he suggested that any friendship which could be bought by these sacrifices on the part of Britain and France would not be worth having, since the scheme was merely another step in the totalitarian campaign of European con-