United Kingdom remains 'absolutely steadfast' on Gibraltar after European Union signals Spanish Brexit veto
01 April, 2017, 01:44 | Author: Elaine Woods
The draft guidelines for Brexit negotiations says Spain should have final say on all U.K. -EU agreements involving Gibraltar after Brexit happens.
The tiny British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip has always been the subject of an acrimonious sovereignty row between London and Madrid, which wants Gibraltar back after it was ceded to Britain in 1713.
The European Union on Friday offered Spain a right of veto over the future relationship between Gibraltar and the EU after Britain leaves the bloc, a move that could smooth Brexit talks but also dash Gibraltar's hopes of winning a special status.
A Brexit deal will not automatically apply to Gibraltar and could be vetoed by Spain, according to the EU's draft guidelines for the UK's exit negotiations, reported the Independent on Friday.
"Ministers should listen to the First Minister of Gibraltar, who this week said that Gibraltar should be no bargaining chip in, pawn in or victim of Brexit".
The sovereignty row between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar regularly stokes nationalist sentiment in both countries.
The European Union has put the future of Gibraltar at stake in the coming Brexit negotiations, effectively backing Spain in its centuries-old dispute with the United Kingdom over the British overseas territory.
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Rows between Spain and Britain over Gibraltar have held up entire European Union deals in the past - including current legislation governing air travel - and Brussels is keen to avoid a new bilateral dispute getting in the way of an orderly Brexit. The region's chief minister said the proposal was "a clear manifestation of the predictably predatory attitude" Spain holds toward the territory.
In 2002, they also voted to reject the idea of shared sovereignty between the United Kingdom and Spain, with 99% of citizens voting to remain under British jurisdiction.
Gibraltar's border with Spain was closed by former dictator Francisco Franco in 1969 and only reopened in the 1980s.
This afternoon, the Prime Minister was urged to take action to protect the interests of Gibraltarians.
"The British didn't give a damn about Gibraltar and they created this situation themselves", a second senior European Union official said.
"Theresa May must urgently produce a plan that protects the citizens of Gibraltar, including their businesses and communities". "We have been firm in our commitment never to enter arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their wishes, nor to enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content", she told MPs.
The Tory chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Gibraltar, Jack Lopresti, accused Spain of using Brexit as "a fig leaf for trouble-making over the status of Gibraltar".
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