Spain Surprised by United Kingdom's Attitude Referring to Gibraltar
- Author: Zachary Reyes Apr 16, 2017,
Apr 16, 2017, 1:36
An armed Spanish gunboat has been ordered to leave British waters off Gibraltar amid heightened tensions over the Rock due to Brexit. "It's what we wanted and what we have said from the beginning", said a Spanish government spokesperson.
The Royal Navy operates constant patrols of the waters around Gibraltar, which is at the centre of a political tug-of-war between Britain and Spain in the run-up to Brexit.
Over the weekend, European Council President Donald Tusk published a letter containing the bloc's guidelines for the split with Britain, or Brexit, a process that could take as long as two years.
On Monday, May's spokesman played down comments by a former leader of her Conservative party, Michael Howard, that she would be prepared to go to war to defend the territory. Spain has called for a veto in how any post-Brexit agreements will apply to Gibraltar, and was accused of using the rock as a bargaining chip, but there was no push for annexation by military force or otherwise.
The Royal Navy has reportedly chased a Spanish patrol boat out of British waters off the coast of Gibraltar.
On Sunday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that the United Kingdom remained committed to supporting Gibraltar and would never negotiate its sovereignty.
At a time when the United Kingdom should be looking for allies in the European Union in the Brexit negotiations, former Conservative leader Michael Howard instead chose to sabre rattle over the future of Gibraltar.
The Scottish independence drive - now resuscitated by the prospect of Britain's departure from the European Union - is highly controversial in Spain because of the secessionist movement in Catalonia.
The spokesman added: "All that Lord Howard was trying to establish was the resolve that we have to protect the rights of Gibraltar and its sovereignty".
His comments led to a call from Madrid for the United Kingdom to calm down, and forced Downing Street to dismiss suggestions that a taskforce could be sent to the Mediterranean outpost. In a 2002 referendum, 99 per cent of the populace voted against the idea of Britain and Spain sharing sovereignty over the territory.
Among the negotiation lines of the Brexit (British withdrawal from the Community club) the European Union established that Madrid would have veto power over any agreement reached between London and Brussels over the disputed rock, located in the southern point of the Iberian península.