Spanish PM repeats threat to vote no to Brexit over Gibraltar

The British territory of Gibraltar could prove to be an unexpected thorn in the side of Britain’s Brexit plans

After a Reuters report that negotiators from the European Commission and Britain had agreed a draft declaration on future ties, Tusk confirmed the deal had been agreed in principle.

While Britain and the European Union are expected to rubber-stamp the Brexit deal Sunday, the pact faces significant opposition in the British parliament, which could yet vote it down, with uncertain consequences.

"The Commission president has informed me that it has been agreed at negotiators' level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the leaders", Tusk said.

Madrid, which has objected to part of the deal that covers future trade and security relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, has insisted that arrangements relating to Gibraltar should be discussed separately.

Theresa May met with European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker on Wednesday in an attempt to finalise details of the political declaration.

May is due to give a statement to the House of Commons at 2.30pm United Kingdom time.

They say the draft divorce deal would leave Britain tied to the bloc's rules without any say in making them.

She has been under intense pressure from all sides over the withdrawal deal, with a slew of ministers resigning in protest and some of her own party MPs launching a bid - stalled for now - to unseat her.

British Prime Minster Theresa May says Brexit is close to being a reality
British Prime Minster Theresa May says Brexit is close to being a reality

There was speculation that the Prime Minister was struggling to keep her Brexit deal alive, after she announced following her meeting with Mr Juncker that she would return to Brussels on Saturday for further talks.

Asked if she would back another referendum, like some of her fellow Remain-voting Tory MPs on the backbenches, Ms Rudd said: "I don't think we are looking at another referendum".

But spokesman Margaritis Schinas did confirm that "work is continuing" to resolve differences between London and Madrid over Gibraltar, the tiny territory at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula that was ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain.

His words are in line with those of Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who was surprised that the divorce deal did not specifically recognize Madrid's negotiating capacity with regard to its future relationship with Gibraltar outside the EU.

Diplomats have suggested that they could add a suitable annex to the draft deal, but they want to avoid re-opening the deal to additional demands from other countries, El País adds.

Prime Minister Sanchez says any deal Spain agrees to must include clear language that states Gibraltar's future is a bilateral issue between London and Madrid, not something to be negotiated at the European Union level.

The prospect of Parliament rejecting the deal when it comes up for a vote - likely next month - has increased fears among businesses that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a plan to keep trade running smoothly.

A Spanish flag, Britain's union flag, the Gibraltarian flag and the European Union flag fly at the border of Spain with the British territory of Gibraltar as they are seen from La Linea de la Concepcion, Spain April 18, 2018.

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