Gibraltar has reacted angrily to the European Union’s continuing insistence that Spain should be given a veto over its inclusion in any post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.
Chief minister Fabian Picardo said the stipulation in the EU’s final negotiating guidelines that Spain, which also claims sovereignty over the British territory, must agree to its inclusion in any future trade agreement was discriminatory and unfair.
He said the people of Gibraltar would resist any attempt by Spain to further its stale claim of the Rock, as EU leaders at a summit in Brussels agreed their final position for exit talks with the UK.
Mr Picardo said: “No one in Gibraltar will be surprised that former draft clause 22 (now clause 24) has been retained by the European Council at the express insistence of Spain’s right-wing Partido Popular government.
“The treatment proposed for Gibraltar by clause 24 of the guidelines is discriminatory and unfair. It flies in the face of the principle of sincere cooperation which the EU is committed to and which it repeats elsewhere in the guidelines.
“The people of Gibraltar are clear and united in not accepting any attempts by the Spanish government to advance its stale sovereignty claim.
“That will not stop us from continuing to seek dialogue with our neighbour, but never on matters which impinge on sovereignty, jurisdiction or control.
“Gibraltar is leaving the European Union with the United Kingdom. Our future beyond the EU will be a prosperous and international one in respect of which the Spanish government will have no say or veto.”
The inclusion in the final EU text comes after Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted that Gibraltar’s status will not be up for discussion during exit talks.
Its initial inclusion in European Council president Donald Tusk’s draft negotiation guidelines caused fury in Gibraltar – which accused the EU of bullying – while former Conservative Party leader Lord Howard even suggested Mrs May could go to war to defend the territory.