By Senhan Bolelli
Spain will veto the British-EU Brexit deal if there is no change in the status of Gibraltar -- a British overseas territory -- the Spanish prime minister said on Friday.
“After my conversation with [British Prime Minister] Theresa May, our positions remain far away,” Pedro Sanchez wrote on Twitter. “My Government will always defend the interests of Spain. If there are no changes, we will veto Brexit.”
Gibraltar – a British overseas territory with a population of around 30,000 – was ceded to Britain by Spain under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, but Spanish claims over the region continued. In referenda in 1967 and 2002, the Rock's public widely rejected proposals for it to be governed by Madrid.
Sanchez previously said Spain would vote against the deal as it is unhappy with its section on Gibraltar’s future relations with the EU.
Spain is demanding that future EU talks with the U.K. do not cover Gibraltar, and it wants to have the final say over any future arrangements in that regard.
Under EU rules, the deal only needs a majority of EU countries to pass, not all of them, so Spain cannot single-handedly derail the deal.
On Thursday, May said that she spoke with Sanchez, and she is “confident that on Sunday we will be able to agree on a deal that delivers for the whole U.K. family, including Gibraltar.”
The U.K. and EU leaders from 27 member countries will gather for a final round of talks in Brussels for Brexit special summit on Sunday.
On Nov. 13, May finalized the 585-page Brexit withdrawal agreement that her Cabinet reluctantly agreed to support.
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