Britain tried to assure Gibraltar on Saturday that it would protect its interests in the forthcoming talks on leaving the European Union. This was amid a dispute between Spain and Britain that highlights the difficulties of Britain’s EU separation. Spain long sought control of Gibraltar. This is an enclave of 32,000 people at the southern tip Iberian Peninsula. It was given to Britain in 1713.
The EU suggested Friday that Spain would have a veto in the future relationship of the territory with the trading bloc. Gibraltar was furious at the EU’s position and claimed that Spain was using Britain’s withdrawal from the EU to get the negotiations it wanted regarding the territory’s status.
Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, met with Fabian Picardo (Gibraltar’s chief minister) on Friday to reassure him of the UK’s support. Johnson tweeted, “As always, the UK remains implacable & rock-like in support for Gibraltar.” The dismay expressed by the territory was caused when Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, failed to mention Gibraltar during her formal negotiations for Britain’s exit from the EU.
Friday’s release by the EU of a nine-page roadmap to the talks fueled anxiety. It stated that any future agreement between Britain and the bloc would not apply to Gibraltar unless both Spain and the UK agreed. This is a unique statement by the EU on Gibraltar. It has previously called for all 27 EU members to speak together in negotiations with Britain in other areas.