Spanish prime minister threatens to 'veto Brexit' over Gibraltar row

Posted On: 
23rd November 2018

Spain's prime minister has threatened to "veto Brexit" over the ongoing row over what it means for the future of Gibraltar.

Spain and the UK are deadlocked in talks over how Brexit will affect Gibraltar.
Credit: 
Frank May/DPA/PA Images

Pedro Sanchez said his country and the UK remain "far away" from each other following talks with Theresa May aimed at breaking the deadlock.

The Spanish government has insisted that Gibraltar must not benefit from any elements of the Brexit deal without its consent.

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However, the UK has insisted that any future trade agreement between London and Brussels must also cover the disputed overseas territory.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Theresa May said she and Mr Sanchez had discussed the issue in a telephone call on Wednesday night, and insisted the UK has "been working constructively" with both Spain and Gibraltar to find a solution to the dispute.

She added: "We want this work to continue in the future relationship. But I was absolutely clear that Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected and that the future relationship we agree must work for the whole UK family."

But in a tweet last night, Mr Sanchez said: "After my conversation with Theresa May, our positions remain far away. My Government will always defend the interests of Spain. If there are no changes, we will veto Brexit."

However, many people pointed out that Spain could not unilaterally prevent Brexit from happening, or even prevent the withdrawal agreement from being ratified at Sunday's special European Council summit in Brussels.

The row exploded following the publication of the political declaration setting out the framework of the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Both it and the 585-page draft withdrawal agreement published last week are due to be signed off at the summit on Sunday.

Meanwhile, it also emerged last night that a senior official of business group the CBI had expressed serious concerns about the future framework document despite publicly backing it.

In an email obtained by ITV News, Nicole Sykes, the organisation's head of EU negotiations, said there was "no need to give credit to the negotiators…because it’s not a good deal".

Josh Hardie, the CBI's deputy director general, said: "Responding to significant announcements inevitably involves a step-by-step process, testing different viewpoints before arriving at a final, public statement.  The CBI and our members have been clear. The deal’s not perfect, it involves compromise, hard work lies ahead but right now it is the best chance of protecting jobs and growth."