UK seeks to reassure Gibraltar in Brexit talks

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UK seeks to reassure Gibraltar in Brexit talks

02 April, 2017

Boris Johnson and Downing Street have sought to reassure Gibraltar that the United Kingdom will stand up for the British overseas territory during the Brexit negotiations.

The government in Gibraltar has accused Spain of using Brexit to seize its territory from Britain. In that respect, the guideline on Gibraltar says nothing new.

With over 700,000 Britons in Spain, they too could become bargaining chips as the diplomatic battle rages on.

The dispute is over a little piece of land at the end of Spain called Gibraltar.

"It is what we wanted and what we have said from the beginning..." Gibraltar is going to be very prosperous and very successful and entirely British before during and after Brexit'.

'Nor to enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content'.

"We have committed to involving Gibraltar fully in the work that we are doing".

'Gibraltar is not going to be a political pawn in Brexit, neither is it going to be a victim in Brexit.

Downing Street said May had made clear the Government was "absolutely steadfast in our support of Gibraltar, its people and its economy" in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

While they are on record as supporting the right of the people of Gibraltar to remain part of Britain, the strong words of the European Union could be music to the ears of the SNP. "What we are seeing is a clear manifestation of the predictably predatory attitude that we anticipated Spain would seek to abusively impose on its partners", he said.

"This will surprise no-one". Though it is off southern Spain, it has been British for more than 300 years, and arguments over its status have caused tensions between the two countries.

After the "veto" row broke, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson spoke on Friday with Gibraltar's chief minister Fabian Picardo in a bid to reassure him of the UK's continued support.

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Picardo also said the draft would not change anything regarding "our continued, exclusive British Sovereignty".

Still, sensing an opportunity after the outcome, Spain again proposed shared sovereignty, arguing it would allow Gibraltar - whose economy largely depends on the European Union single market - to remain in the bloc.

Spanish officials yesterday celebrated the EU's decision to give Madrid the power to shape Gibraltar's future, claiming it as their "colony".

"It now falls to the UK's negotiating team to translate goodwill towards Gibraltar into action and reject outright such a prejudicial position to Gibraltar's long term interests", the Opposition said.

Brake has also urged Theresa May to act and protect the people of Gibraltar.

Verhofstadt's team did not rule out an agreement on some additional amendments to cover issues not addressed in the draft text, including Gibraltar.

No Tory prime minister will ever cede sovereignty over the outpost, or abandon its people to a harsh economic future outside any trade deal the United Kingdom brokers.

On Saturday Labour's shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, took to Twitter to warn about the status of the territory - which has voted repeatedly and overwhelmingly to remain British in recent referendums - after meeting his government counterpart David Davis on Saturday morning.

"And as part of this, it needs to remind the European Union that it too has a responsibility to reach a deal that protects the interests of thousands of European Union nationals who cross the border from Spain daily to work in Gibraltar".

Labour MP Mary Creagh, a supporter of the Open Britain campaign group, said Gibraltarians risked being treated as "pawns" in the Brexit process.

Spain has a long-standing territorial claim on Gibraltar, which has been held by the United Kingdom since 1713 and has the status of a British overseas territory.

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