BRITISH GOVERNMENT REASSURES GIBRALTAR
In the wake of Brexit, the UK government will consult closely with island dependency.
Boris Johnson, the new Foreign Secretary in the British Cabinet reaffirmed over the weekend that Britain would fully involve the Gibraltar in its Brexit discussions with the European Union.
A Reuters news agency report quoted a Foreign Office statement that Johnson told Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in talks in London that Britain would never agree to the people of Gibraltar being transferred to the sovereignty of another state against their wishes.
Last month acting Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Spain would seek to jointly govern Gibraltar with Britain following the Brexit vote.
The peninsula on Spains south coast, a British territory since 1713, is home to 30,000 people and to many large online gambling companies that have been anxiously monitoring the Brexit situation in fear of a Spanish takeover. Voters on the peninsula voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU.
Co-sovereignty with Spain was rejected by around 99 percent of Gibraltarians in a referendum in 2002.
Johnson said in a statement: "The people of Gibraltar have repeatedly and overwhelmingly expressed their wish to remain under British sovereignty and we will respect their wishes.
"We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their wishes."
He added: "Furthermore the UK will not enter into any process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content. We will continue to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard Gibraltar, its people and its economy including maintaining a well-functioning Gibraltar-Spain border."
Spanish politicians have said that Spain would push to keep Gibraltar out of any general Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union.
But Johnson told Picardo on Saturday it would indeed form part of discussions.
"I reassured him of both our steadfast commitment to Gibraltar and our intention to fully involve Gibraltar in discussions on our future relationship with the EU," he said.