Spain ‘much closer' to joint control of Gibraltar with UK after Brexit – Spanish FM

People enter the British territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, at its border with Spain, in La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain June 24, 2016, after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the Brexit referendum © Jon Nazca
Spain has again claimed its right to the Gibraltar Peninsula, calling for shared sovereignty with the UK in the wake of its decision to leave the EU, Spain’s acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said.

“It’s a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time,” Garcia-Margallo told local Onda Cero radio station on Friday following the news of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

“I hope the formula of co-sovereignty – to be clear, the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before,” the minister said, adding that “no one should think that I am celebrating this situation.”

Spain is planning to urge Gibraltar not to engage in negotiations with the European Union and will strive for talks regarding the possibility of joint sovereignty of the territory, Garcia-Margallo also noted.

Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo expressed certainty in the UK’s ability to adapt to changes and responded to Spain’s claims at a parliament session in Gibraltar later on Friday.

“So let others make irrelevant noises about flying flags over the Rock if they want to waste their breath. Such ideas will never prosper. Gibraltar will never pay a sovereignty price for access to a market. Gibraltar will never be Spanish in whole, in part, or at all,” Picardo asserted.

The UK has promised full support to the people of Gibraltar and stressed its firm stance regarding the matter.

“I want to be absolutely clear, the United Kingdom will continue to stand beside Gibraltar. We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against your wishes. Furthermore, the UK will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content,” David Lidington, the minister for Europe, said in a statement.

In 2002 a sovereignty referendum showed 99 percent of Gibraltarians are eager to stay under the UK’s exclusive control.

Gibraltar, the British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula and known as ‘the Rock’, has long been a sore point in Spain-UK relations.

The British territory of about 30,000 residents took part in the referendum as well, with an overwhelming majority choosing to stay in the union.

The population is predominantly British citizens, with thousands of Spaniards commuting to Gibraltar from mainland Spain. The enclave houses a British military garrison and naval base and is autonomous in all areas except defense and foreign policy.

The rights of Spanish workers in Gibraltar won’t be affected by the results of the British referendum as the free movement laws will stay intact, Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Friday, Reuters reported.

The territory has belonged to Britain since 1713, however Spain still continues to seek ways to recover it.