Gibraltar rock-steady against 'Brexit bombshell'

Gibraltar rock-steady against 'Brexit bombshell'

Gibraltar rock-steady against 'Brexit bombshell'

Tensions between London and Madrid escalated last week after the European Union appeared to hand Spain a veto over the territory's future in Brexit talks.

The Spanish Navy corvette Infanta Cristina was shadowed by a patrol boat from the Royal Navy's Gibraltar Squadron as it sailed slowly past the Rock about a mile from shore.

A spokesman for Spain's foreign ministry said Spain did not recognize the waters as belonging to Gibraltar and the ship had been on a routine patrol.

The United Kingdom should "stick to common sense" when discussing the issue of the Gibraltar sovereignty following former Tory leader sabre-rattling remarks, Spanish Defense Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Theresa May has laughed off suggestions that Britain might go to war over "the Rock".

Hpwever, later in the day a spokesman for Spain's foreign ministry denied that a Spanish vessel had made such an incursion into the disputed waters off the British enclave.

In a 2002 referendum, 99 per cent of the populace voted against the idea of Britain and Spain sharing sovereignty over the territory.

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Tensions increased after an European Union document suggested that Spain would be given a veto on post-Brexit agreements governing the Gibraltar.

A spokesman said on Monday: "All that Lord Howard was trying to establish is the resolve that we will have to protect the rights of Gibraltar and its sovereignty".

The Spanish prime minister reiterated that procedural questions were key in the Brexit talks and endorsed the EU's official position that "first we negotiate the leaving terms; then we'll start talking about the future relation".

It comes after Conservative peer Michael Howard caused uproar when he inferred that the United Kingdom should be prepared to go to war with Spain if it used the Brexit negotiations to assert sovereignty over Gibraltar, which was ceded to Britain in 1713. According to British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, a vocal proponent of the Leave campaign last summer, the territory's status will not change anytime soon.

Britain claims three miles of sea around Gilbraltar but Spain says the waters are Spanish.

Gibraltar was taken from Spain in 1704 and ceded to Britain in 1713.

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