Brexit has been accused of ‘blowing it all up’ in a fresh dispute over Gibraltar. The Spanish government has taken a beating in the handling of Brexit as it calls for a final deal on Gibraltar. Spanish diplomacy is said to be open to a “new relationship” with the UK, sources in the country’s government have told Spanish news agency EFE. Spain is reportedly seeking a final deal on Gibraltar – but has claimed Brexit is ‘blowing everything up’.
The sources stressed that new Prime Minister Liz Truss is “flexible in a good way”. They added that they hoped the deal would be “less showy and strident” than with his predecessor, Boris Johnson.
However, their faith in Ms Truss appears to be damaged by her relationship with Brexit. They said she “embodies the spirit of Brexit”, and therefore they do not expect major changes in Britain’s approach to diplomacy.
This also had an impact on their predictions for the progress of the deal.
The sources claimed that when it comes to a “time horizon” for a final deal between the EU and the UK, a deadline cannot be set “because everything about Brexit eventually blows up, there are a lot of unknowns.”
They added that the unanimous demand for respect for Brexit “takes away some strength from us to move forward in the bilateral relationship”. The sources said they wanted a future deal to result in much the same situation for citizens.
They said: “In mobility, we want the same rights for those who were already living here before Brexit. And for those who arrived after Brexit, we want the situation to be as close as possible to what it was before Brexit, for example with the recognition of driving licenses.
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However, diplomats are keen to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
They said, “on the one hand, the dialogue is already mature enough, and on the other hand, although our will is the best, the temporary contingency measures are temporary, and the contingency cannot be a stable framework.”
There are also plans to open a new Spanish consulate in London. The precedent drew widespread criticism from the Spanish community in the UK, as its workers spent weeks on strike over a pay dispute.
The location of the new consulate should be announced before next summer. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will soon meet his Spanish counterpart José Manuel Albares for their first bilateral meeting.
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Brexit has rekindled age-old tensions over Gibraltar’s sovereignty. While a massive 95% majority of the Overseas Territory’s population voted to remain in the EU, they are also strongly in favor of British sovereignty.
A referendum on the issue in 2002 saw 98% of the population vote in favor of remaining under the Union flag. Brexit has seen Spain renew its calls for joint Anglo-Spanish sovereignty over Gibraltar
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.