1. News
April 7, 2017

Between a rock and a hard Brexit: Theresa May and Donald Tusk discuss Gibraltar’s place in EU negotiations

Gibraltar has found itself in the middle of discussions about the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Earlier this week, the European Council president Donald Tusk said Spain would be given a veto over any deal that would affect the status of Gibraltar in the Brexit negotiations. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory, connected to the Spanish mainland, which Spain has desired to take back from the UK for many years.

However, after meeting with the UK prime minister Theresa May at Downing Street yesterday, the two leaders have agreed to “lower tensions” over Gibraltar during the Brexit negotiations.

Discussing the topic of the British territory, an EU source told the Independent:

“They agreed to stay in regular contact throughout the Brexit process to keep a constructive approach and seek to lower tensions that may arise, also when talks on some issues like Gibraltar inevitably will become difficult.”

After the meeting, May has said there will be no negotiation on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of its population.

A Downing Street official said:

“The PM also made clear that on the subject of Gibraltar, the UK’s position had not changed, the UK would seek the best possible deal for Gibraltar as the UK exits the EU and there would be no negotiation on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of its people.”

Tensions surrounding the British territory became inflamed this week when the former Conservative leader, Micheal Howard, likened the UK’s hold over Gibraltar to the war against Argentina over the Falklands. Since then, Spain has been accused of “causing Gibraltar traffic jams” as its policemen were said to be deliberately causing trouble for motorists on the border between the mainland and the territory.

Once the UK officially leaves the European Union in March 2019, so will Gibraltar despite the fact 96 percent of its residents voted to remain in the union last June. One solution to the turmoil is to offer its residents dual nationality; however, this is something that May has ruled out as a discussion at the moment.

Gibraltar’s status can be added to the long list of things that May needs to negotiate now that Article 50 has been invoked.