Spain to back Brexit af­ter Gi­bral­tar deal reached

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD - BY RAF CASERT, JILL LAW­LESS AND JOSEPH WIL­SON As­so­ci­ated Press

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.”

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