The Spanish Government is finalising a letter to EU members setting out its position on Gibraltar ahead of Brexit negotiations, making clear it will seek to block any agreement that favours the Rock over Spain’s sovereignty aspirations, according to reports this weekend in the rightwing Spanish newspaper ABC.
For two consecutive days, ABC published extensive coverage on Brexit and Gibraltar including a provocative full-page image on the front page of Saturday’s edition showing the Rock over a Spanish flag and the headline: “Spain will offer joint sovereignty over Gibraltar to save it from Brexit”
In editorial comments and articles, the newspaper – which is known to closely reflect the Spanish government line – explored Madrid’s position on Gibraltar ahead of negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The articles came at the end of a week in which Spain’s King Felipe VI also raised Gibraltar during a speech at the UN in New York, calling for dialogue with the UK to end what he described as “the anachronism” of Gibraltar.
They also came as Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, during a discussion event in Córdoba broadcast live by Cadena Ser on Friday, once again defended Gibraltar’s right to determine its own future.
Asked about the monarch’s intervention at the UN, the Chief Minister said he respected King Felipe, who was only “doing what his government had asked him to do”.
Mr Picardo said that he believed Spain’s young monarch would, if asked in private “over a beer”, most likely agree that the Gibraltarians’ “right to decide” is the key factor in Gibraltar’s future.
“Gibraltarians have already stated on two occasions that they wish to continue being British, so I am not going to…sit down to talk about something that my people do not allow me to talk about, and which I too never want to discuss,” Mr Picardo said during the Congress on Wisdom and Knowledge in Córdoba.
Also evident at the Córdoba event were the differing views that exist in Spanish politics on Gibraltar and Brexit.
In opening the event, the PSOE vice president of the Junta de Andalucia, Manuel Jiménez Barrios, said the sovereignty discussion “seems to us a minor issue” against the backdrop of Brexit “which will have a big impact on the Andalusian economy”.
There is even disagreement within the ranks of the Partido Popular itself, as became apparent during a roundtable discussion in La Linea on Friday at a seminar analysing the implications of Brexit on the Campo de Gibraltar.
Luís Ángel Fernandez, the PP president of the Mancomunidad de Municipios del Campo de Gibraltar – which brings together all Campo municipalities – highlighted the need for a fluid frontier and said Madrid’s view of Gibraltar was different to that of the Campo.
Likewise Nacho Macias, the leader of the PP in La Linea, said the sovereignty claim should not hinder good cross-border relations.
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