Threatening Brexit 'veto,' Spain demands written commitment from United Kingdom on Gibraltar

EU Britain agree draft declaration on post Brexit ties

The leader of the small Northern Irish party propping up Prime Minister Theresa May's British government said it cannot support her Brexit divorce deal as it now stands, and warned that it could cost May their government cooperation agreement.

The prime minister would have to win over almost an equivalent number of Labour rebels to get the final deal approved, a task considered sufficiently unlikely that May faced questions on Friday about whether she would resign if MPs voted against it.

Spain's junior minister for the European Union, Luis Marco Aguiriano, said Friday that British authorities had made a commitment to address Spain's concerns on Gibraltar, but that he had not yet seen it in writing.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday: "After my conversation with Theresa May, our positions remain far away", adding: "If there are no changes, we will veto Brexit".

Raab, who resigned as Brexit secretary last week, told the BBC that May's deal, which took the best part of two years to be negotiated, would be rejected by Parliament.

British MPs of all parties criticised the divorce agreement announced last week, which includes a financial settlement and a controversial plan to avoid a hard Irish border.

Her intervention came after ITV News published email exchanges within the top ranks of the organisation showing its Brexit specialist thought it was "not a good deal".

"From my point of view, personally, there is no question of "no Brexit" because the government needs to deliver on what people voted on in the referendum in 2016", said May, adding that she plans to tour the United Kingdom to "explain" the agreement to people.

Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo criticized Spain's insistence on a written guarantee, saying "Gibraltar has demonstrated that we actually want a direct engagement with Spain on issues".

Mrs May is set to hold more talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker on Saturday in a down to the wire bid to try and secure a withdrawal agreement at an emergency EU summit scheduled for Sunday.

"This declaration establishes the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership across trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defense and wider areas of cooperation", according to the document.

Earlier this month, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady accused the Conservatives of negotiating a "blindfold" Brexit deal which did not deliver for working people.

The transition period, which Britain and the European Union hope will begin once Britain leaves the European Union on March 29, can be extended "for up to one or two years", according to the draft declaration.

Spain wants the future of the tiny territory at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula - ceded to Britain in 1713 but still claimed by Spain - to be a bilateral issue between Madrid and London.

Irish border: Britain and the European Union commit to replacing the "backstop" with a permanent solution "that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland". "My government will always defend the interests of Spain", Sanchez wrote on Twitter.

The PM faced a strong push back from Spain over the status of Gibraltar in the "divorce deal".

She is to make a statement to parliament later in the day, presumably to sell MPs the deal, which she hailed on the steps of 10 Downing Street.



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