Spain strikes deal with Britain over Gibraltar
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday his government would back a Brexit deal with Britain after reaching an agreement over Gibraltar.
Sanchez had warned he could boycott a special EU summit on Brexit on Sunday if London and Brussels did not confirm his country's right to veto over any future accord on ties with Gibraltar.
"I have just announced to the King of Spain that we have an agreement on Gibraltar," Sanchez said in a televised address. "Spain... will vote in favour of Brexit."
In his address, Sanchez claimed the compromise was a "historic text" that gave Spain a "triple protection" over the status of the peninsular.
He claimed that the agreement made clear that the British overseas territory would be excluded from UK-EU negotiations on the future relationship, leaving its future to be negotiated in bilateral talks between Madrid and London.
According to the El Mundo newspaper, the Spanish government views the "triple guarantee" arrangement proposed as "sufficient", even if it is neither "ideal", not the veto which the country had originally demanded.
The "triple guarantee" consists of a letter from both the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, together with two declarations, one from the remaining 27 EU member states and the other from the UK.
The EU declaration states that "after the United Kingdom leaves the Union, Gibraltar will not be included in the territorial scope of the agreements that are closed between the EU and the United Kingdom".
In a letter signed by the British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, the UK confirmed that Article 184 of the Withdrawal Agreement "imposes no obligations regarding the territorial scope" of agreements on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar's Chief Minister, said in a press release that he aimed to ensure that the territory remained part of Britain in the long term, and announced that he would formally respond to Sanchez's announcement on Saturday evening.
"Throughout our history, we've stuck with Britain. After Brexit, we will stick with Britain in the future too," he said in the release.
A spokesman for the British government confirmed the deal, explaining that the UK had committed to continuing direct post-Brexit talks with Spain over the peninsular alongside negotiations for the country's future ties with the EU, resolving a last-minute hitch to a divorce deal.
"For the withdrawal negotiations, given there are some circumstances which are specific to Gibraltar, we held talks with Spain," a British government spokesperson said. "These were constructive and we look forward to taking the same approach to the future relationship."
After the deal was announced, Tusk called on EU member states to approve the deal agreed when the European Council meets on Sunday.
Sanchez later thanked Jean-Claude Juncker over Twitter for his role in resolving the impasse.
Here is our statement about #Gibraltar’s future trade and other arrangements after #Brexit. We will stick with #Britain and look forward to negotiations with the #EU as part of the whole #UK family. See here for full statements from #HMGUK: https://t.co/xJLKaPzzql pic.twitter.com/AHhbfn4WhR
— Fabian Picardo (@FabianPicardo) November 24, 2018
Here is our statement about #Gibraltar’s future trade and other arrangements after #Brexit. We will stick with #Britain and look forward to negotiations with the #EU as part of the whole #UK family. See here for full statements from #HMGUK: https://t.co/xJLKaPzzql pic.twitter.com/AHhbfn4WhR— Fabian Picardo (@FabianPicardo) November 24, 2018