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Madrid Brexit talks postponed as Spain awaits Govt announcement

Johnny Bugeja

Brexit talks between officials from Gibraltar, the UK and Spain due to take place in Madrid next week been postponed.

The meeting, due to have taken place on Tuesday and Wednesday, was cancelled following the decision by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to delay the announcement of his new cabinet.

Mr Sanchez, who won parliament’s backing this week to govern in a left-wing coalition between the Socialist and Unidas Podemos, had been expected to announce his cabinet this week but instead put off the decision.

He is now expected to announce his new ministers on Sunday, with the first cabinet meeting likely to take place on Tuesday after the ministers are sworn in on Monday.

The Brexit meeting in Madrid was to have rehearsed the implementation of four memorandums of understanding agreed as part of the Withdrawal Agreement covering the transitional period through to the end of 2020.

A new date has yet to be fixed.

Developments in Spain are being followed very closely in Gibraltar, which has a particularly keen interest in who will be appointed Spain’s new Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Spanish media reports suggest the frontrunner could be Jose Manuel Albares, a senior official who was Mr Sanchez’s right-hand man on international affairs and acted as Spain’s ‘sherpa’ during the Brexit negotiations, including on Gibraltar.

The latest developments come as the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, wrote to the leader of Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, to congratulate him on the announcement by La Moncloa that he will become vice-President of Spain.

In his letter, Mr Picardo expressed his sincerest hopes for genuine dialogue that is respectful of the rights of the people of Gibraltar to determine their own future.

He also noted the welcome remarks of Podemos representatives to this effect in the Spanish Parliament.