Brexit has been accused of “blowing everything up” in a fresh row over Gibraltar. The Spanish government took potshots at the handling of Brexit as it called for a definitive agreement on Gibraltar. Spanish diplomacy is reportedly open to a “new relationship” with the United Kingdom, sources in the country’s government told Spanish news agency EFE. Spain is reportedly looking for a definitive agreement on Gibraltar – but claimed that Brexit was “blowing everything up”.
The sources stressed that new Prime Minister Liz Truss is “flexible in the good sense of the word”. They added that they hoped the deal would be “less showy and vehement” than with her predecessor, Boris Johnson.
However, their trust in Ms Truss appears to be tampered by her relationship with Brexit. They said that she “embodies the spirit of Brexit”, and therefore they are not expecting any major changes in the UK’s approach to diplomacy.
This also impacted their forecasting for the deal’s progress.
The sources claimed that regarding a “time horizon” for a definitive agreement between the EU and the UK, a deadline cannot be set “because everything related to Brexit ends up blowing up, there are many unknowns”.
They added that the unanimous demand that Brexit be complied with “takes a bit of strength away from us to move forward in the bilateral relationship”. The sources stated that they are keen for a future agreement to result in largely 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 similar as possible to what it was before Brexit, for example, with the recognition of driving licences.”
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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 sufficiently mature, and on the other, although our will is the best, the temporary contingency measures are temporary and contingency cannot be a stable framework”.
There are also plans to open a new Spanish Consulate in London. The previous one attracted widespread criticism from the Spanish community in the UK, with its workers spending weeks on strike over a pay dispute.
The location of the new Consulate is expected to be announced before next summer. UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will soon meet with his Spanish counterpart José Manuel Albares for their first bilateral meeting.
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Brexit reignited centuries-old tensions over the sovereignty of Gibraltar. While a massive 95 percent majority of the overseas territory’s population voted to Remain in the EU, they are also staunchly in favour of British sovereignty.
A referendum on the matter in 2002 saw 98 percent of the population vote in favour of remaining under the Union Flag. Brexit has seen Spain renew calls for joint British-Spanish sovereignty over Gibraltar
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.