Spain’s position on Gib is ‘incomprehensible’, Dominic Grieve says
Spain’s “eccentric” enclaves in north Africa make its position on Gibraltar “incomprehensible”, visiting Tory MP Dominic Grieve said yesterday, as he reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to stand by the Rock after Brexit.
Speaking during a visit to Gibraltar, Mr Grieve said any future Brexit deal struck by the UK with the EU must also include the Rock.
“We need to be absolutely clear to our European partners that whatever final deal we arrive at is going to include Gibraltar,” Mr Grieve said.
“I am fairly confident from what I know of the dynamics in London that this will be the case, because anything else would be unacceptable.”
The Conservative politician was guided around the Gibraltar International Airport and frontier by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, making good a promise to the Gibraltar Government that he would visit.
He was able to witness at first hand the lengthy vehicle queues experienced by drivers heading into Spain yesterday afternoon.
Mr Grieve, a former Attorney General of England and Wales, was firm that there is no question mark over Gibraltar’s continued British sovereignty, adding that Britain will remain staunchly by the Rock’s side.
His words come just days after King Felipe of Spain suggested bilateral talks during a royal visit to the UK Parliament.
Mr Grieve was present when the King Felipe of Spain gave an address at the Royal Gallery in the Houses of Parliament.
“I do not accept that there is any sovereignty issue concerning Gibraltar and [Spain’s] territorial integrity,” Mr Grieve told the Chronicle.
“The difficulties over the years seem to come in the form of Spanish intransigence, which I have never understood.”
“It strikes me as being massively counterproductive if Spain is trying to woo Gibraltarians to change their opinions of Spain.”
“It is incomprehensible, particularly coming from a country which has numerous enclaves in other people’s countries that are as eccentric in their historical origins as perhaps Gibraltar is.”
He added Spain should behave properly in respect to the international law governing Gibraltar, which includes respect for its British sovereignty.
During his brief visit Mr Grieve also met with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Attorney General Michael Llamas, Governor Lieutenant General Edward Davis, members of the Opposition and the Minister for Justice, Neil Costa.
Mr Grieve had campaigned for the UK - and thus Gibraltar - to remain in the European Union during last year’s referendum.
Although now his outlook is that the UK must work towards the best possible Brexit, he maintained that Gibraltar will not be forgotten through the negotiations.
He noted how he is not the first UK politician to visit the Rock and said that more politicians are taking an interest.
“I would just like to reassure people that the issue around Gibraltar - and the particular challenges that it is now facing more starkly since Brexit - are appreciated and we are not about to ignore them,” he said.
“I am obviously concerned about Gibraltar’s future and possible challenges that come from our leaving the European Union and Gibraltar leaving with us.”
Mr Grieve is confident in the strongly-established links between Gibraltar and UK will be maintained no matter the outcome of Brexit.
His visit to the Rock, he hopes, will help people in the UK understand some of the challenges Gibraltarians face.