The United Kingdom will remain rock-solid in its support for Gibraltar, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Saturday, following EU proposal to grant Spain a right of veto over the territory’s future relationship with the bloc.
“Good to speak to #Gibraltar Chief Minister @FabianPicardo. As ever, the UK remains implacable & rock-like in our support for Gibraltar,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.
Gibraltar’s status after the UK withdrawal from the European Union is one of the pressing issues in Brexit talks, with the union saying that no EU-UK deal might apply to Gibraltar without a separate agreement between London and Madrid, which claims sovereignty over the territory.
On Wednesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told the national parliament that Madrid would oppose extending EU-UK trade arrangements to Gibraltar to protect its economic interests in the area, following the official start of the UK withdrawal from the bloc.
On Friday, the Gibraltar chief minister accused Spain of “manipulating” Brussels into granting it veto power on issues concerning the UK overseas territory during Brexit talks.
Gibraltar was taken from Spain in 1704 and ceded to Britain in 1713. Madrid continues to lay claims to the territory, despite two referendums showing that most of its 32,000 inhabitants favor staying with the United Kingdom.