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  World   Europe  25 Nov 2018  Theresa May gives way over Gibraltar after ‘threat’

Theresa May gives way over Gibraltar after ‘threat’

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Published : Nov 25, 2018, 1:52 am IST
Updated : Nov 25, 2018, 1:52 am IST

The development threatens, however, to open up a new front in Downing Street’s battle with the critics of May’s deal.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AFP)
 British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AFP)

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May has given way to Madrid’s demands over the future of Gibraltar after the Spanish prime minister threatened to “veto” the Brexit deal due to be signed off by EU leaders on Sunday.

On the eve of Sunday’s special Brexit summit, the British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, wrote to concede that Gibraltar would not necessarily be covered by a future trade deal with the EU.

 

The move appears to have solved the final issue in the Brexit negotiations. The Spanish leader, Pedro Sánchez, had demanded a written assurance as the price for his support for the withdrawal agreement and accompanying political declaration on the future relationship.

Spain does not have a formal veto over the 585-page withdrawal agreement and the 26-page joint declaration by the leaders but the EU would have been unlikely to go ahead with the summit without Madrid’s support.

The development threatens, however, to open up a new front in Downing Street’s battle with the critics of May’s deal.

The PM had promised in the House of Commons and on the steps of Downing Street that she would work for the entire “UK family”, including the Rock, a disputed territory.

 

Spain has always insisted that Gibraltar could only be covered by any agreements struck between the EU and the UK with Madrid’s consent.

A bilateral agreement on tax evasion, police cooperation and tobacco smuggling had persuaded Spain that Gibraltar could be covered by the 21-month transition period after Brexit, during which the UK would stay in the single market and customs union without representation in EU decision-making institutions.

Spain was furious, however, when an article in the withdrawal agreement appeared to suggest that any future trade deal would cover Gibraltar. Downing Street was accused of “acting under the cover of darkness” in inserting the clause.

 

The letter from the UK ambassador to the Euro-pean council has, however, laid down Downing Street’s understanding that article 184 in the withdrawal agreement does not widen the territorial scope of any future deal so that includes Gibraltar.

Tags: theresa may, brexit