Experts take starkly different views on Spain’s Brexit role
The question of whether Spain will be an ally to the United Kingdom in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations was the subject of two articles last week, each with starkly contrasting views.
The influential Bloomberg website carried an article which stated that Spain could turn out to be Britain’s “best friend” on the inside in upcoming Brexit talks.
According to the publication UK officials see Spain as a potential chink in the armour of the European Union as it heads into the diplomatic fray that will start after Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggers the Brexit process.
While the “thorny” Gibraltar issue will no doubt be important, depending on how the issue is managed, Spain knows there are more important issues – the article determines flagging trade and tourism.
On the same day and in sharp contrast, Britain’s former Minister for Europe at the time of the 2002 joint sovereignty episode, Denis MacShane, stated in an opinion piece for InFacts that the idea that Spain is on the UK side of the table in any Brexit negotiations is “far from the truth”.
Mr MacShane places Gibraltar at the heart of the problem.
He said: “As Europe minister, I helped negotiate a kind of peace deal in Madrid that allows direct flights to Gibraltar even though the airport landing strip is in disputed territory over which Spain claims sovereignty.”
If the UK leaves the EU Open Skies and other EU aviation agreements, there will have to be a bilateral deal between the UK and Spain on access to Gibraltar, he said.
“The Spanish foreign minister makes clear that the issue of joint sovereignty will be on the agenda,” he said, highlighting that the notion is unacceptable to Gibraltarians and British MPs.
“But, if hard Brexit is what London seeks, it will be very hard indeed for the Rock.”
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