Spain could demand joint sovereignty of Gibraltar if Britain exited EU, says foreign minister 

Spain could demand joint sovereignty of Gibraltar in the event of Britain deciding to leave the EU, according to a Spanish minister. 

The surprise move to revive a shelved 2002 proposal that would impact on the 30,000 inhabitants, was outlined by Spain's acting foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo in a newspaper interview.

The concept of both Britain and Spain laying claim to Gibraltar, located off the southern tip of Spain, was floated 14 years ago and residents voted on whether they would approve of this.

However, the results showed that the population overwhelming wanted to stay in the sovereignty of the UK.

But with Britain holding a vote on whether it should remain in the European Union in June, Spain believes Gibraltar could still stay a part of the bloc.

Mr Garcia Margallo told the publication La Razon: 'If they wish to remain part of the EU it is relatively simple, do what we were about to do in 2002.

'That is establish sovereignty between Spain and the UK for a transitional period, reserving its peculiar status.

Mr Garcia-Margolla said that joint sovereignty would give people in Gibraltar the best of both worlds as well as access to the European Union 

The hardliner added that the implementation of the plan, previously rejected by the Spanish government, would give Gibraltarians 'the best of all possible worlds: with two flags and access to the European Union.'

It comes after the Gibraltar government last week warned that Spain was 'waiting to pounce' on Gibraltar if Britain voted to leave the European Union in the upcoming June referendum.

Fabien Picardo, Gibraltar's chief minister said: 'It is safer and more secure for Gibraltar to remain in the EU to deny Mr Margallo the opportunity to pounce on us.

'We have fought to ensure that Gibraltar is able to vote in the Brexit referendum so that we can influence that decision.'

In a statement the Gibraltar government warned there was 'no certainty' Gibraltar's border would remain open with Spain if Britain voted to leave the EU.

Prime Minister David Cameron last month admitted that the future for British expats and Gibraltarians in Europe was unclear.

He said: 'I can tell those people what it will be like if we stay, but I cannot be absolutely certain about what would happen if we leave.

'It would depend on a complex and difficult negotiation, and I think there would be a lot of uncertainty.' 

Gibraltar has been a source of tension between the UK and Spain for hundreds of years, as they both lay claim to the peninsula.

Last year the Spanish police, who entered UK waters in Gibraltar as they chased criminals are guilty of an 'outrageous' violation provoked the fury of Britain.

The Government of Gibraltar said they were 'astonished and appalled' after the force used boats and helicopters to make several incursions into British waters in the past two days.

The Royal Navy helped escort the Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera (SVA) - the Spanish police's drugs and money laundering squad - out of the waters following the international row. 

Ministers said repeated incursions were 'completely unacceptable and unlawful under the international law' and pledged to urgently raise the matter with the Spanish.




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