Friday, 22 February, 2019


No 10 hits out at EU's claim Gibraltar is a British colony

Conrad Doyle | 02 February, 2019, 16:11

The row was triggered by a footnote on the draft European Council document which states: "Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown".

The diplomatic row flared up at a meeting of European Union ambassadors in Brussels held after The Telegraph exclusively revealed Madrid's plans on January 24.

The wording of the official European Council document appeared to have one eye at least on the machinations of the British government at Westminster, where a growing number of senior government ministers are discussing delaying Brexit itself.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity in 1713.

Spanish diplomatic sources said on Tuesday that Madrid would insist on excluding Gibraltar from any Brexit deal, as it plans to revive its bid for shared sovereignty over the rocky outpost. "We will always take the side of a member against a non-member", the official said. European Union diplomats point to the territorial issue as one of those that could fray the unity the 27 have shown in negotiations up to now.

The Gibraltar Government said the worldwide legal status of Gibraltar was not a matter of argument, but rather of fact.

Similarly, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, suggested Wednesday that the scale of cooperation between UK financial service companies and European Union businesses will be declining after Brexit with the UK companies eventually boosting their activities in fast-growing economies outside the bloc.

"The irony is that it is Spain itself that is keeping Gibraltar on the United Nations list and then using our presence there to label Gibraltar as a "colony", No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

A United Kingdom government spokesperson said: "The EU's provisions for visa-free travel into and out of the [passport-free] Schengen area cover Gibraltar, and mean that in any scenario, British nationals from Gibraltar will be able to travel for short stays in and out of Spain and other countries in the Schengen area".

In any event, the final text of the proposal for visa-free travel has yet to be formally approved and adopted.

A statement issued by the Council of the EU said: "Ambassadors mandated the Council Presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament on this legislative proposal".

Instead, Britain will replace the EU's version of the symbol with a new one, UKCA, according to the BBC.

"It provides flexibility for government should there be divergence of regulations to insist that manufacturers were committing to that United Kingdom regulatory practice in future", he said.

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