Future EU legislation and policies after Brexit cannot undermine Gibraltar’s British sovereignty in international law, Brexit minister David Davis has told the House of Lords, highlighting too the UK’s commitment to Gibraltarians and their long-term economic prosperity.
Mr Davis was responding after peers said the UK Government must remain alert to any long-term attempts by Spain to advances its territorial claims over Gibraltar once the UK “is out of the room” after Brexit.
“We are clear that future EU legislation or wider policies could not weaken or undermine the legal basis in international law for British sovereignty over Gibraltar,” Mr Davis said.
The position was set out in an eight-page response to a report on Gibraltar and Brexit prepared by the Lords’ EU Select Committee earlier this year.
In the letter to the Lords, Mr Davis also underlined the double-lock sovereignty commitment to the Gibraltarians and said the UK would stand by Gibraltar now and outside the EU.
“We are steadfast in our support of Gibraltar, its people and its economy,” he said.
“We will continue to stand beside Gibraltar – both as we prepare to leave the European Union, and after we have left.”
The Lords’ report was published last March and Mr Davis apologised for the delay in submitting his response, which he said had been set back by the general election.
But in setting out his thoughts on the report’s key findings, he echoed the key priorities identified not just by peers themselves, but also by the Gibraltar Government in written and oral submissions to the select committee.
Mr Davis, who is leading the UK’s team in negotiations with the EU, left no doubt that Gibraltar was part of those discussions.
“The UK Government is clear that Gibraltar is covered by our exit negotiations including when it comes to our withdrawal treaty,” he said.
“The focus of the UK Government will be to ensure that we get the best possible deal in trade and other matters, for the UK and for Gibraltar.”
“We will continue to work closely with the Government of Gibraltar to ensure that we get a result that is in the collective interests of the UK and Gibraltar.”
Mr Davis noted that Gibraltar’s most significant economic relationship was with the UK, but acknowledged too the important role played by the EU in its recent economic development.
He said the UK Government would include Gibraltar’s interests as it negotiated the withdrawal from the EU and its future relationship with the bloc, although he did not mention the EU’s negotiating clause seeking to give Spain a specific veto over the application of any future deal to Gibraltar.
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