Spain hints at Gibraltar dual sovereignty if Brexit happens

Published:  15 Mar at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, UK, Euro, England
Out of all the UK expats living, working or retiring in favourite regions across the Eurozone, Gibraltar’s residents are facing the most unique scenario should Britons vote to leave the EU.

A surprise announcement by a Spanish Minister has revived the possibility of Spain’s 2002 demand for joint sovereignty over the peninsula being reactivated should Britain leave the EU after the Brexit referendum takes place. When the issue was first brought forward, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly to stay in the UK, and are very unlikely to have changed their minds during the intervening 14 years.

Spain’s acting foreign minister Garcia Margallo told the media that joint sovereignty would give Gibraltar residents ‘the best of both worlds’. His comments followed a warning last week that the Spanish government were planning to pounce on the Rock should Britain exit the EU. Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabien Picardo, believes that the border between the two states may well be closed should the vote go the wrong way.

The British government has admitted that the status of Gibraltar’s expat and resident communities after an EU exit is far from clear, but the communities themselves are both committed to voting for a stay in the EU. The Rock’s sovereignty had been a thorn in the side of Spain since the early 18th century, with its residents then and up to the present day fiercely loyal to the British crown and country.

Spain clearly believes that, in the event of a Brexit, Gibraltar could remian part of the EU if its government was prepared to accept joint sovereignty. However, the attempt in 2002 only referred to a transitional period, after which the Rock and its naval base would presumably be given back to Spain.

Gibraltar’s government has fought to ensure its residents are able to vote on June 23, and there’s no doubt as to which option they will choose. British retirees and British tourists make a strong contribution to the Rock’s economy and are attracted by its old-fashioned loyalty to the crown as well as its fascinating history. Given that even recent attempts by Spanish police to catch criminals entering UK waters around the promontory were fiercely condemned by the UK, the chances of Spain getting its hands on its lost territory again seem slim at best.
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