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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Is the future of Gibraltar back in the mix due to Brexit?

As talks get underway on the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union, it seems that it is not just the future of the union is at stake. According to the BBC, Conservative MPs are concerned that Spain could potentially veto a UK trade deal with the EU if it does not get a say over the future of Gibraltar.

Who knew? Well actually, the remain campaign were warning that this very problem would arise from a leave vote. So why are the Tory Brexiteers so surprised?

The BBC says that Spain's potential veto was contained in a leaked draft document setting out the European Union's Brexit negotiating strategy. It said no agreement on the EU's future relationship with the UK would apply to Gibraltar without the consent of Spain:

Spain has long contested Britain's 300 year-rule of Gibraltar but Gibraltarians rejected the idea of the UK sharing control with Spain in a vote in 2002.

In a referendum, the approximately 30,000 residents of "The Rock" voted by 99% to 1% to reject the concept of dual sovereignty.

However, this did not put an end to the issue, with Spain continuing to press its territorial claim and periodic incidents heightening tensions between the two countries.

In the wake of June's referendum - in which Gibraltar voted by a margin of 96% to 4% to remain in the EU - Spain's then foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo suggested shared sovereignty could allow Gibraltarians to maintain some of the benefits of EU membership and enable Spain to "plant its flag" there.

The BBC adds that in its draft Brexit negotiating guidelines, which have yet to be approved by all member states, the European Council identified future arrangements for Gibraltar as one of its 26 core principles. It wrote: "After the UK leaves the union, no agreement between the EU and the UK may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without agreement between Spain and the UK."

The Brexiteers released the furies, it is only now that they are beginning to understand the consequences.
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