The small British enclave of Gibraltar is at the center of a diplomatic dispute between the United Kingdom and Spain as a result of the activation of Article 50 which formally initiated the brexit negotiations.
The discussion began after the European Union issued its negotiating guidelines last week, saying that after the UK leaves the bloc, «no agreement between the EU and the UK would apply to the territory of Gibraltar without Endorsement of the Kingdom of Spain «.
«The sovereignty of Gibraltar has not changed, it will not change and can not change without the consent of the people of Gibraltar and the UK. That will not change,» British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday in Luxembourg.
Meanwhile, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said he was «surprised» by the tone of some British politicians in the discussion surrounding Gibraltar.
Dastis said Monday at a conference in Madrid that his government did not have to respond to comments from British politicians on the issue.
«We do not need to talk about a hard or soft brexit. The UK’s attitude of leaving the single market and denying the authority of European justice makes it difficult to talk about a soft brexit,» he said.
«The EU is a success story, it has brought the greatest period of peace and prosperity in the history of Europe,» said Dastis, «if anyone could choose where to be born, he would choose Europe.»
In a telephone interview with Reuters on Sunday, Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo called on EU leaders to remove the reference to Gibraltar from the brexit guidelines and said that European Council President Donald Tusk Behaving like a «cheated husband who is being harassed with the children».
Dastis, in an interview with The Guardian on Sunday in an apparent 180-degree turnaround, said his government would not veto a potential Scotland application to join the EU if it eventually votes to separate from the UK.
On the same day, the ex-leader of the Conservative Party, Lord Michael Howard in an interview seemed to make a parallel with the Falkland Islands or Falklands.
«I think it’s a remarkable coincidence that 35 years ago this week another female prime minister sent a task force to the other side of the world to protect a small group of Britons against another Spanish-speaking country,» Howard said.
Asked if he thought Britain would have to go to war with Spain if necessary, Howard replied, «No. What I am saying is that the prime minister, our current prime minister, must, and I am sure she will, Same resolve to take care of the interests of Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher did in defense of the interest of the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands. »
Gibraltar is considered a British overseas territory. It is located on the south coast of Spain, is three miles long and less than a mile wide, with a population of 32,000 people.