Last updated 1/4/2017 15:12

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Brexit: UK 'will stand up' for Gibraltar's interests in EU negotiations

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By Ben Brickley

The United Kingdom has said it will stand up for Gibraltar's interests after the territory came under fire from Spain, who is attempting to use Brexit to forward its territorial ambitions. Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo said this was "unacceptable" after Spain reportedly lobbied the EU to make certain that all decisions affecting Gibraltar will be run past the Spanish government during Brexit negotiations. Spain has long contested Britain's 300 year-rule of Gibraltar. However, Gibraltarians, who number about 30,000, rejected by 99% to 1% the idea of the UK sharing sovereignty with Spain, in a vote in 2002; but Spain has continued to press its territorial claim.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has held talks with Mr Picardo in an effort to assure him that the UK stands behind Gibraltar and will protect the territory's interests. Mr Johnson said: "As ever, the UK remains implacable and rock-like in our support for Gibraltar." Christian Hernandez, president of the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce, has also stated that the British government needs to "stand firm in the face of Spanish bullying. We don't want to be independent from the UK and We've made it very clear in the last 100 years, in the last 20 years, in the last 15 years, we want a constitutional relationship with the UK, where we continue to be part of the UK and independence is not something we aspire to.”

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In its draft Brexit negotiating guidelines, the European Council identified future arrangements for Gibraltar as one of its 26 core principles.

It wrote: "After the UK leaves the union, no agreement between the EU and the UK may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without agreement between Spain and the UK." However, the UK will continue to fight this to ensure that Gibraltar’s wishes are respected by the European community. Mr Lopresti, chairman of the UK's All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gibraltar, said there was no question of any negotiation over Gibraltar's future and that He will raise the matter with the secretary general of Nato, of which the UK and Spain are both members.

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