Gibraltar will not be excluded from the UK’s withdrawal negotiations or its future trade agreement with the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons yesterday, as she faced questions from MPs about Britain’s commitment to the Rock.
Mrs May was quizzed by MPs after Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy suggested last week that any transitional arrangements agreed by the UK and the EU could only apply to Gibraltar with Madrid’s consent.
“I have made clear that as we negotiate these matters, we’ll be negotiating for the UK but that includes negotiating to ensure that the relationships are there for Gibraltar as well,” Mrs May told the Commons.
“We’re not going to exclude Gibraltar from our negotiation for either the implementation period or for the agreement for the future.”
The Commons session came after Mrs May secured an agreement with EU leaders to move previously-deadlocked talks forward onto the topic of interim and long-term trading arrangements.
There was no explicit reference to Gibraltar in that agreement, although clauses on citizens’ rights will benefit British nationals resident in Spain and working in Gibraltar, and cross-frontier workers too.
But the Prime Minister insisted that Gibraltar’s interests would be protected in the negotiations.
On several occasions during yesterday’s question and answer session in the Commons, Mrs May was asked about her government’s position on Gibraltar.
Joanna Cherry, an MP for the Scottish Nationalist Party, raised the comments made by Mr Rajoy last week following a meeting of the European Council.
“Will she give a firm commitment to the people of Gibraltar that she won’t countenance any agreement for the transitional period which will not preserve their existing rights and arrangements?” Mrs Cherry asked.
The Prime Minister replied: “We’ve been very clear throughout and indeed in the discussions and the continued interaction that we have with the Government of Gibraltar that we are seeking the best deal for Britain and that deal must work for Gibraltar as well.”
“They will be part of the exit negotiations, they’ll be covered by our exit negotiations, and we’ll fully involve them as we leave the EU.”
Mrs May was pressed too by Conservative MP Bob Neill, a long-time champion for the Rock and current chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Gibraltar, who asked about the UK’s commitments to Gibraltar in the future.
“When we negotiate for our exit from the European Union, when we negotiate for the trade deal that we will have in the future…we will be considering Gibraltar as part of our negotiations,” Mrs May said.
“They will be there, we will be discussing with them as we move through those negotiations, to ensure that we do get a deal that is right for the United Kingdom but right also for Gibraltar.”
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