Jack Maidment London
Gibraltar responded with fury last night after the king of Spain failed to acknowledge the territory’s right to determine its own future in an address to parliament.
The monarch told British MPs he wanted a “dialogue” between Madrid and London on the status of the territory, in a snub to Gibraltar’s own democratically elected government.
The omission prompted Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister, to warn that the issue of sovereignty was “not up for discussion or negotiation” as he accused the king of “seeking to ignore” the wishes of people who live on ‘the Rock’.
Tory MPs reacted angrily to the king’s address, saying that the future of the territory was “none of his business”.
However, they did not carry out a threat to leave as he was speaking.
The king told an audience of MPs and peers that the future of Gibraltar would be determined by the “two governments” of the UK and Spain.
He said: “During our rich and fruitful history there has been also estrangement, rivalry and distance but the work and determination of our government, authorities and citizens have relegated such events to the past.
“I am certain this resolve to overcome our differences will be even greater in the case of Gibraltar and I am confident that through the necessary dialogue our two governments will be able to work towards arrangements that are acceptable to all involved.”
But Mr Picardo told Sky News that the king’s failure to acknowledge Gibraltar’s leadership “harks back to a time when the governments in Madrid and London might make decisions over the heads of the people of Gibraltar”.
He said that Spain was “seeking to ignore” Gibraltar and that the territory should have the “most important voice” in any talks about its future.
He said Gibraltar would welcome any dialogue “as long as they obviate the issue of sovereignty, which as far as we are concerned is not up for discussion or negotiation.”
Spain has long disputed the status of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, but British Prime Minister Theresa May has previously insisted that its future will not be up for discussion during Brexit talks with the EU.
Spain was accused of trying to use Brexit to make a “land grab” for Gibraltar after EU negotiating guidelines suggested it would be given an effective veto on whether the Brexit deal applies to the territory. (© Daily Telegraph London)