Spain to back Brexit deal

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - World | Deaths - BY RAF CASERT, JILL LAW­LESS AND JOSEPH WIL­SON Associated Press

BRUS­SELS

The Euro­pean Union re­moved the last ma­jor ob­sta­cle to seal­ing an agree­ment on Brexit af­ter Spain said it had reached a deal Satur­day with Bri­tain over Gi­bral­tar on the eve of an EU sum­mit.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, who ar­rived in Brus­sels Satur­day evening for prepara­tory talks with EU lead­ers, will then have the mo­men­tous task of sell­ing the deal to a re­cal­ci­trant Bri­tish Par­lia­ment and a na­tion still fun­da­men­tally split over whether the U.K. should leave the EU on March 29 and un­der what con­di­tions.

Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Pedro Sanchez an­nounced Satur­day that Madrid would sup­port the Brexit di­vorce deal af­ter the U.K. and the EU agreed to give Spain a say in the fu­ture of the dis­puted Bri­tish ter­ri­tory of Gi­bral­tar, which lies at the south­ern tip of the Mediter­ranean na­tion.

Spain wants the fu­ture of the tiny ter­ri­tory, which was ceded to Bri­tain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain, to be a bi­lat­eral is­sue be­tween Madrid and London, not be­tween Bri­tain and the EU.

In a let­ter ob­tained by The Associated Press, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker and Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk as­sured Sanchez that Spain’s “prior agree­ment” would be needed on mat­ters con­cern­ing Gi­bral­tar.

“Europe and the United King­dom have ac­cepted the con­di­tions im­posed by Spain,” Sanchez said. “There­fore, as a con­se­quence of this, Spain will lift its veto and to­mor­row will vote in fa­vor of Brexit.”

May said Bri­tain had con­ceded noth­ing on the sovereignty of Gi­bral­tar.

“I will al­ways stand by Gi­bral­tar,” May said af­ter meet­ing with Juncker.

“The U.K. po­si­tion on the sovereignty of Gi­bral­tar has not changed and will not change.”

The move should al­low EU lead­ers speed­ily to sign off on the Brexit agree­ment be­tween Bri­tain and a spe­cial sum­mit Sun­day morn­ing.

Mean­while, the leader of North­ern Ire­land’s Demo­cratic Union­ist Party, on which May re­lies to get her gov­ern­ment ma­jor­ity, on Satur­day re­jected her planned Brexit deal, ar­gu­ing it would drive a wedge be­tween North­ern Ire­land and the rest of the United King­dom.

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