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May says will get best Brexit deal for British enclave Gibraltar

May says will get best Brexit deal for British enclave Gibraltar

LONDON: Britain will seek the best deal for the British enclave of Gibraltar in its departure talks with the European Union and there will be no negotiation of sovereignty without its citizens’ consent, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday.

After meeting European Council President Donald Tusk at her Downing Street official residence, May said Britain was looking forward to formally beginning talks with the European Union once the bloc has agreed its guidelines.

“The PM also made clear that on the subject of Gibraltar, the UK’s position had not changed: the UK would seek the best possible deal for Gibraltar as the UK exits the EU and there would be no negotiation on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of its people,” May’s office said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU president Donald Tusk on Thursday held their first face-to-face talks since she triggered the process for leaving the bloc as Brexit negotiations loom.

The visit follows an outcry in Britain over Tusk last week outlining draft negotiating guidelines which say that Spain should have a veto on any trade deal agreed with Britain being extended to Gibraltar.

And it comes a day after the European Parliament approved a series of Brexit demands, including calling for “substantial progress” to be made on an exit deal before talks on future trade relations can begin.

“The PM reiterated the UK’s desire to ensure a deep and special partnership with the EU following its exit, and noted the constructive approach set out by the council in its draft guidelines,” said a spokesman for May’s Downing Street office.

“She said the UK looked forward to formally beginning negotiations once the 27 member states agreed guidelines,” he said.

The spokesman said May told Tusk that Britain would seek the best possible Brexit deal for Gibraltar, its internally self-governing territory attached to the south coast of Spain.

May stressed that the sovereignty of the Rock, ceded to Britain in perpetuity by Spain in 1713, was not up for negotiation in the Brexit talks.

For his part, Tusk said the meeting was to make sure that the Brexit talks “get off to good start”.

A European Union source said that the two-hour meeting went well and was friendly in tone.

The source said they agreed to keep a constructive approach and “seek to lower tensions that may arise, also when talks on some issues like Gibraltar inevitably will become difficult”.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2017

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