Brexit: Spain, UK Reach Agreement over Gibraltar

Dwayne Harmon
November 25, 2018

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez previously expressed concerns about the future of Gibraltar, the British territory of less than 3 square miles on Spain's southern coast.

Her foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt, said that the Brexit deal was a "staging post" towards Britain getting everything it wanted from leaving the European Union, but that the arithmetic for getting the deal approved was looking "challenging".

Eurosceptics in May's Conservative party and their Northern Irish allies warn they will not support the agreement when MPs vote as expected next month.

"I must tell him that whilst he pursues the sovereignty of Gibraltar in the manner that he has today, he is doing no more than pursuing the policy bidding of the Generalisimo himself", said Picardo.

After agreeing the U.K.'s divorce terms at a special summit in Brussels, European leaders warned British politicians they will not get a better deal if they reject the offer on the table because there is no "plan B".

Asked if he would seek a discussion over joint sovereignty once Britain leaves the bloc on 29 March, 2019, he said: "We will discuss all issues".

Although several countries have expressed their sympathies for the Spanish case, at the same time, both the Commission and the other counties pointed that there was not much room for changes in the text.

The former foreign secretary - viewed as a potential leadership rival to Mrs May - said the United Kingdom was on the verge of "making a historic mistake", adding: "Unless we junk this backstop, we will find that Brussels has got us exactly where they want us - a satellite state". Many pro-EU politicians in Britain also regard it as unacceptable because the United Kingdom will not have a say over the rules it must observe.

It said senior European Union figures are "war-gaming" how the bloc could extend Article 50 - the mechanism used to leave the bloc next March - to allow for various scenarios.

The biggest obstacle to the Brexit accord overall is the vehement opposition in the British parliament.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who arrived in Brussels Saturday evening for preparatory talks with European Union leaders, will then have the momentous task of selling the deal to a recalcitrant British Parliament and a nation still fundamentally split over whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union on March 29 and under what conditions.

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DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "We will vote against it if its brought to parliament".

Whatever happens after Brexit - good or bad - will be because of Theresa May.

"There's a danger we end up through this transition deal of losing Gibraltar and Northern Ireland", he said.

Spain wants to discuss the future of the British Overseas Territory - over which it holds a historic claim - on a bilateral basis and completely separate from the future EU-UK talks. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the deal - the product of a year and a half of often grueling negotiations between Britain and the European Union - was regrettable, but acceptable.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker warned Theresa May she can not expect to get a better deal if MPs vote down her plan.

He said: "I am totally convinced this is the only deal possible".

May arrived on the eve of the summit for final talks with Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, after which Tusk's spokesman tweeted: "We are on track for tomorrow".

French President Emmanuel Macron said the Brexit vote showed Europe needed reform.

On November 21, Theresa May's Brexit deal suffered a setback after Spain threatened to veto her draft divorce agreement over the handling of Gibraltar.

In an invitation letter to the leaders of the 27 member states, Tusk said "no-one will have reasons to be happy" on Sunday, but concluded: "I believe that we have finally found the best possible compromise". "I don't think there is anything more ... in general, this is the max we can all do, both Theresa May and her government as well as the European Union".

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