Spain will not 'jeopardise' Brexit deal to recover Gibraltar

Spain will not 'endanger' the UK’s Brexit deal by forcing a change of Gibraltar’s status, its foreign minister has said

9 August 2017, 8:25am
The future of Gibraltar and its 30,000 inhabitants is set to be a major point of contention in Brexit negotiations
The future of Gibraltar and its 30,000 inhabitants is set to be a major point of contention in Brexit negotiations
Spain will not seek to block a Brexit agreement between Britain and the European Union by attempting to regain sovereignty over Gibraltarl the country’s foreign minister has confirmed.

Alfonso Dastis relieved fears Gibraltar could be used as a pawn in Brexit discussions by saying that Spain would not "jeopardise" any future deal by pushing its sovereignty claim over the British overseas territory.

“I won’t make a deal between the EU and the UK conditional on recovering sovereignty over Gibraltar,” Alfonso Dastis told Spanish conservative daily ABC.

However, he added: “But what I don’t want to do is jeopardise an EU-UK agreement by subjecting it to a need to alter Gibraltar’s status at the same time.”

The future of Gibraltar, a rocky enclave on the southern tip of Spain captured by Britain in 1704, and its 30,000 inhabitants is set to be a major point of contention in Brexit negotiations.

Dastis’ comments follow rising tensions after Brussels negotiation guidelines indicated that Spain would be given a veto on whether the Brexit deal could be applied to Gibraltar.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s response at the time was to say that the British government was “steadfastly committed” to the rocky outcrop, of which 96% of the population voted to remain in the EU.

Gibraltar’s population overwhelmingly say they identify as British. It automatically joined the European Union in 1973 at the same time as Britain, though it did not become part of the customs union.