Spain to reject Brexit deal unless Gibraltar issue clarified

Marco Green
November 22, 2018

The comments come after Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, said he would reject the draft Brexit withdrawal deal without a clarification of the text on future talks on the status of Gibraltar.

A Commission spokesman said both leaders had nevertheless made "very good progress" in their meeting in Brussels, but declined to give more details.

Sky sources have said German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering not turning up to the European Union summit on Sunday - at which Mrs May's withdrawal agreement will be discussed - because she only wants to rubber stamp a deal.

May hopes the blueprint, a political declaration, will help convince skeptical lawmakers at home to support the legally binding draft Brexit deal agreed by negotiators last week.

The prime minister is under pressure from Tory Brexiteers to secure further concessions from the European Union in the meeting with the bloc's top official.

"Most businesses are not prepared for a no deal Brexit and don't know really how to prepare", said Michael Saunders, a member of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee, the board which sets interest rates.

Democratic Unionist Party peer Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown used his maiden speech in the House of Lords, traditionally reserved for uncontroversial issues, to argue the proposed withdrawal agreement would "drive a coach and horses" through the devolution settlement.

"We are absolutely steadfast as he is in our support for Gibraltar, its people and its economy and we've always been clear that Gibraltar is covered by our exit negotiations and we've been committed to fully involve them as we exit the European Union", she said.

Spain wants the right to negotiate the future of Gibraltar with Britain on a bilateral basis.

The issue has emerged as the main stumbling-block over signing a deal at the summit scheduled for Sunday.

Asked to clarify comments he made last week that in a no-deal scenario it would be difficult to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, Mr Varadkar said "nobody knows for sure" what would happen in a no-deal scenario where the United Kingdom crashed out of the European Union without a deal.

Andrew Rosindell, a lawmaker from May's Conservative Party, urged her Wednesday to change course and cut away "the tentacles of the European Union over our cherished island nation".

"We have had a constructive positive attitude towards the EU".

The EU is trying to discourage Britain from any renegotiation of the draft treaty, while also seeking to assuage concerns expressed by some of the remaining 27 member states.

May's deal is opposed by both supporters and opponents of Brexit within her party, the DUP's 10 lawmakers, the Labour Party and all other parties in parliament.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is one of a group of Conservative legislators who have written letters calling for a no-confidence vote in the prime minister.

But controversially, it says that if that deal is not agreed in time, Britain will adopt a "backstop" arrangement to keep open its land border with Ireland.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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