The British overseas territory has long been a bone of contention between the UK and Madrid, and Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU is far from clear. A Spanish source, speaking to Spanish newspaper El Espanol, pointed to Article 167 of the document agreed by the EU27 countries authorising the start of trade negotiations aimed at thrashing out a wide-ranging free-trade deal.
The specific line states: “Any agreement between the Union and the United Kingdom negotiated on the basis of these negotiating directives will not include Gibraltar.”
The source claimed: “Gibraltar was the biggest hole of unfair competition: transparency is introduced, the criteria were clarified to know if a company is in Gibraltar or not.
“We are already gaining sovereignty without calling it sovereignty, by recovering fiscal sovereignty.”
The Spanish don’t know what to say anymore
Gibraltar Government spokesman
However, a Gibraltar Government spokesman scoffed at the suggestion.
In a strongly worded statement, he told Express.co.uk: “The Spanish don’t know what to say anymore.
“They are clutching at straws because they have gained nothing on sovereignty, they are gaining nothing on sovereignty and they will gain nothing on sovereignty.
“The sooner they realise that the sooner they can stop brazenly lying to their people.’
Earlier this month, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Gibraltar’s hard border with Spain would be reintroduced unless an additional deal is reached between the UK and the European Commission and approved by Spain.
Speaking after a meeting with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Mr Barnier said: “We will have a specific parallel table between the UK and the EU, but the Kingdom of Spain will have to give prior agreement to each chapter.”
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However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted “the UK will be negotiating on behalf of the entire UK family.”
He added: “That includes Gibraltar and the sovereignty of Gibraltar remains, as everybody knows, indivisible.”
Gibraltar, on the south east tip of Spain, has been in British hands since the Treaty of Utrecht, which was signed in 1713.
However, Spain has never renounced his claim, and the border was closed for a 16-year period from 1969 to 1985, when it finally reopened after Spain joined what was then known as the EC.
Gibraltarians have twice voted by overwhelmingly majorities to retain their British links, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has been steadfast in his insistence that the Rock’s future lies with the UK.
Speaking to Express.co.uk in November during a visit to London, he said: “When the time came, despite having voted 96 percent to remain in the European Union, when the decision came, we were always going to choose our link with the United Kingdom over the link with the European Union and the single market, not just because it made economic sense, but for us it made emotional sense too.
“This is where we have been misinterpreted by some aspects of the Spanish political spectrum, who have thought that this was their moment because we were going to lose access to the single market and therefore we would fall into their laps.”
In a pointed message to Madrid, he added: “This is about thinking both with our heads and our hearts, it’s not about making a choice which is right for our pockets, and that’s the thing the Spanish have never really understood.
“They’ve always thought that they could get at us through our pockets but we have got British blood running through our veins and that’s what matters.”
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