LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is “steadfast” in its commitment to Gibraltar and will work with the territory on the southern tip of Spain to secure the best possible outcome from Brexit talks, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday.
The European Union on Friday offered Spain a right of veto over Gibraltar’s future relations with the bloc, giving Madrid sway over the fate of the enclave once the territory is no longer an internal EU matter. Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713, but has long called for it to be returned.
Downing Street said May reiterated that Britain “remains steadfastly committed” to its support for Gibraltar, its people and its economy, in a call with Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
“The Prime Minister said we will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes, nor will we ever enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content,” a spokeswoman said.
“The Prime Minister said we remain absolutely dedicated to working with Gibraltar for the best possible outcome on Brexit, and will continue to involve them fully in the process.”
Spain’s foreign minister Alfonso Dastis refused to talk about veto rights when it comes to Gibraltar in an interview on Sunday, but said he viewed the EU’s stance very positively.
“When the United Kingdom leaves the EU, the EU partner is Spain, and in the case of Gibraltar the EU is therefore obliged to take the side of Spain,” he told El Pais.
“I do not think it’s necessary to talk about vetoes”.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Potter)