Published: Sat, April 01, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

'Spain can veto Brexit deal applying to Gibraltar'

'Spain can veto Brexit deal applying to Gibraltar'

The EU guideline effectively forces talks over Gibraltar in which Spain will have an upper hand, allowing its government to bring back to the negotiation table the dispute over the encalve's sovereignty, which it ceded to Britain in 1713.

The clause says that once the UK leaves the bloc, "no agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom".

The clause is likely to face a fierce backlash from London, which has always been engaged in a sovereignty row with Spain over Gibraltar and has pledged to stand by its overseas territory known as the Rock.

Since last year's referendum, Spanish politicians have made several comments which suggest that the government will take steps towards keeping Gibraltar within the EU.

He said: "Confirmation that Gibraltar's future must be agreed by the United Kingdom and Spain shows just how damaging the Government's hard Brexit will be on this strategically important British territory".

Spain's Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, has told a leading German newspaper that Madrid will not be taking "any type of punitive measures" at the border with Gibraltar after Brexit.

Spain has had long ambitions to reclaim sovereignty over Gibraltar.

Unless Theresa May is prepared to sacrifice the future of Gibraltar's 30,000 inhabitants to secure a good deal for the rest of the United Kingdom then she could have to make concessions to Spain.

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Both the British and Gibraltar governments rejected the both possibility of the island being shared between Britain and Spain and the unlikelier prospect of it returning to total Spanish control.

Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the European Union in last June's referendum, but a majority of Britons voted to leave.

"The whole world and the whole European Union should know: this changes nothing in respect of our continued, exclusive British sovereignty", he said.

But even in their draft form, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the move was discriminatory and "unnecessary, unjustified and unacceptable", adding that this was a "predictable machination" and part of the reason why Gibraltar had overwhelmingly backed Remain.

The Prime Minister told MPs the United Kingdom was clear that Gibraltar was "covered by our exit negotiations".

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".

"Theresa May must urgently produce a plan that protects the citizens of Gibraltar, including their businesses and communities".

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