Yesterday’s agreement between the UK and Brussels to work within a 21 month Brexit transition period (HERE) may be scuppered by Spain which still wants Gibraltar and seeks major concessions in an effort to control this spec of British territory.
Madrid’s reaction to the withdrawal agreement which contains the timeline for the transition period, has been a threat to withhold support just days before the deal is due to be signed by EU member states as it wants a veto on Gibraltar enjoying the single market and customs union.
Spain already has the EU’s agreement that the UK must come to a two way agreement over The Rock or it will not sign any UK-Brussels deal.
The president of the European council, Donald Tusk, has warned of a possible breakdown in the talks due to Spain’s political chicanery and much behind the scenes diplomacy is being carried out to enable at least the transition agreement to be agreed on, an agreement that the UK’s negotiator, David Davis, has said “included Gibraltar.”
The EU’s negotiator, Michel Barnier, confirmed that the transition deal can not be agreed without Spain’s signature on the document, leaving Davis the prospect of a failed deal even on the timing of withdrawal or dropping Gibraltar into Madrid’s lap.
Gibraltar is a recognised British Overseas Territory but has been officially claimed by Spain since General Franco made it his government’s policy.
There is no question that Gibraltar is British. The Rock was captured in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession with the Spanish Crown formally ceding the territory in perpetuity to the British Crown in 1713, under Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht.
Spain attempted to recapture the territory during the thirteenth siege (1727) and the Great siege (1779–1783). British sovereignty over Gibraltar was confirmed in later treaties signed in Seville (1729) and the Treaty of Paris (1783) yet Spanish governments have brought up the ‘Gibraltar question’ whenever domestic support is on the wane and political support can be increased by some well-timed nationalist rhetoric.
Reclamation of the territory remained government policy after Franco, with the Gibraltarians constant in their rejection of all claims from Madrid.