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Gibraltar stands defiant against Spain after Brexit vote

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Gibraltar stands defiant against Spain after Brexit vote
Gibraltar's First Minister said there would be no negotiating with Spain. Photo: AFP
15:52 CEST+02:00
Gibraltar's Chief Minister made very clear that the British Overseas Territory would not bow to pressure from Spain after Brexit.

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo was defiant in a speech on Friday following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, despite the people of Gibraltar voting by an overwhelming 96 percent to remain.

“There will be no talks, or even talks about talks, about the sovereignty of Gibraltar,” Picardo said in a speech to Gibraltar’s parliament.

Picardo’s comments came in the wake of Spain implying it was closer to bringing Gibraltar under its control.

“The Spanish flag is much closer to the Rock,” said Spain’s acting foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo on Friday morning in response to Brexit.

"Our formula... is British-Spanish co-sovereignty for a determined period of time, which after that time has elapsed, will head towards the restitution of Gibraltar to Spanish sovereignty," García-Margallo told Spanish radio.

The tiny rocky outcrop of Gibraltar, Spain's southern tip, has long been the subject of an acrimonious sovereignty row between London and Madrid, which wants Gibraltar back after it was ceded to Britain in 1713

Gibraltar was the first place to declare its votes on Thursday night, with 96 percent of the Rock voting to Remain in the EU. Despite the high percentage, Picardo on Friday acknowledged that “our contribution did not even move the needle”.

“There are likely to be some tumultuous years ahead for Britain,” Picardo said, adding that “despite noises from the neighbouring nation” there would be no negotiating with Spain on the issue of sovereignty.

"Let others make irrelevant noises about flying flags over our 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.

"So I ask all our citizens to ignore these noises. Our work will be focused on the more pressing issues before us.

“It’s been a tough 24 hours but I’ve been humbled by the support of the people of Gibraltar,” he said.

Earlier in the day Britain had reaffirmed its commitment to stand by Gibraltar in the wake of Spanish threats.

David Lidington, the Minister for Europe, issued a short statement with a message to Gibraltar.

“I want to be absolutely clear, the United Kingdom will continue to stand beside Gibraltar," he said.

“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.

“We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against your wishes.”

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