Spain insists on Gibraltar veto in Brexit deal

Sergio Conner
November 20, 2018

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

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn was keen for the United Kingdom to back the deal now on the table, saying that "any deal is better than no deal" while Belgium's Didier Reynders said that the agreement reflects the interests of both parties.

If the documents do not change before Sunday, "Spain will vote no", Pedro Sanchez has warned on Tuesday during a business forum organised by The Economist in Madrid.

Spain has long resented Britain's claims to Gibraltar, a British overseas territory that is home to around 30,000 people, and has previously threatened to use Brexit to wrest concessions on the issue.

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said that his government would not back the proposals at the European Council unless assured the agreement would not apply to Gibraltar.

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.

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But he faced a public rebellion on Monday as Spain demanded Barnier make changes to the draft withdrawal agreement in relation to Gibraltar.

"Future negotiations on Gibraltar are separate negotiations".

As no political declaration on Britain's future relationship with the bloc after it leaves has been presented, he said "We can not judge the whole without knowing the parts".

European Union leaders will be asked to approve the divorce deal at a special summit on Sunday, assuming Mrs May has not been ousted by her own party before then.

The divorce deal sets up a new UK-Spanish oversight committee to manage ties across the border after Brexit.

It said the Mr Borrell's statements were "regrettable" and ran contrary to the "positive and constructive" approach during face-to-face discussions involving Gibraltar during the negotiations on withdrawal. In the U.K.'s 2016 Brexit referendum, about 96 per cent of people in Gibraltar voted to remain in the EU.

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