Spain threatens to reject Brexit deal over Gibraltar

Lester Mason
November 20, 2018

Spain warned Monday it could yet derail the Brexit deal agreed between London and Brussels if it does not guarantee Madrid's veto over Gibraltar's future status.

Barnier has been able to convince European Union ministers that these issues should be resolved in the negotiations on the future relationship that will begin after Brexit.

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, asked for clarification about Gibraltar in order to back the draft agreed on Brexit.

The EU's negotiating guidelines published past year stated that any deal on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and EU would not apply to Gibraltar without the consent of Spain.

'Until we have the future declaration and we know what it says, whether we agree or not, we are also not going to approve the withdrawal agreement'.

An EU diplomat said the issue could go as far as the Sunday summit of all EU leaders aimed at rubber-stamping the Brexit deal, where other outstanding points are fisheries and a limit on any extension of a post-Brexit transition phase.

Borrell, however, didn't refer to the all-important term, "veto", which would see Spain block approval of the withdrawal agreement.

"We want the interpretation of that clause to be clarified", he said. In the U.K.'s 2016 Brexit referendum, about 96 per cent of people in Gibraltar voted to remain in the EU.

What is certain, the week is due to culminate in a special EU Summit on Sunday, but uncertainty surrounds whether events in the United Kingdom will mean Brussels will prepare a Brexit deal, or its contingency plans for a No Deal scenario.

A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May meanwhile said the draft deal covers Gibraltar as well as "the other overseas territories and the crown dependencies".

Last night the Gibraltar Government said it was not surprised that Madrid had used "the eleventh-hour tactic" to raise new Gibraltar-related issues as part of the Brexit negotiations.

Spain said last week that it welcomed the inclusion of a protocol on Gibraltar in the draft Brexit agreement, but Mr Borrell said that the document introduced "a certain confusion" on the issue.

These discussions commenced under the Partido Popular Government in March and were continued by the incoming PSOE administration as from June.

Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo tweeted a statement about Spain's comments, saying their position "does little to build mutual confidence and trust going forward".

"The language of vetoes and exclusions should be the language of the past".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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