Verhofstadt frightened of offending Spain over Gibraltar

31-Mar-2017 @ 11:00

Ashley Fox Ashley Fox

Ashley Fox Ashley Fox

Ashley Fox Ashley Fox

Verhofstadt frightened of offending Spain over Gibraltar

European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has been accused of appeasing Spain by excluding references to Gibraltar from the Parliament's draft Brexit resolution.

Conservative MEPs leader Ashley Fox will table an amendment addressing the omission in advance of the European Parliament's debate and vote next Wednesday.

The resolution states that "a large number of United Kingdom citizens, including a majority in Northern Ireland and Scotland, voted to remain in the European Union."

Mr Fox, who represents South West England and Gibraltar, questions why a distinct part of the UK electorate, which voted by more than 96 per cent in favour of EU membership, has been excluded.

He said: "There is much in the resolution that I find disappointing, but that does not surprise me.

"What I find both surprising and most unwelcome is the way Mr Verhofstadt has ignored Gibraltar's participation in the referendum. I know that Labour MEP Richard Corbett was consulted on the draft and therefore it is doubly disappointing that he made no effort to amend this omission.

"I can only conclude that they are both frightened of offending Spain."

Spain has a long standing claim of sovereignty over the Rock but the UK Government insists the issue remains non-negotiable.

"It is simply not on the table," Mr Fox said. "The Chief Minister of Gibraltar has emphasised to me that they will bear any price before they give up their British sovereignty."

Mr Fox also criticised the way the resolution , which recommends a series of negotiating red lines, including a three year limit on any transitional deal for the UK, was drafted behind closed doors by a small number of MEPs.

He said: "It is ironic that the resolution insists the forthcoming negotiations between the EU and UK should be conducted in 'good faith and full transparency', yet it was drawn up in such secrecy.

"It ignores anything Mr Verhofstadt doesn't agree with, including much of the useful work many parliamentary committees did in putting forward their views on Brexit."


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