Gibraltar’s residents ridiculed Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez today for ‘fake news’ claims that he had secured a ‘victory’ over the Rock.
Mr Sanchez gloated at yesterday’s EU summit after he forced Britain to provide a letter on the Rock and the future UK-EU trade deal.
Theresa May has insisted she gave nothing away to end the dispute in time to finalise her Brexit deal in Brussels yesterday.
EU diplomats were said to be furious at the ‘grandstanding’ from Madrid in the run-up to yesterday’s emergency summit.
Mr Sanchez wrongly claimed he could have vetoed the Brexit deal – and then claimed ‘victory’ after receiving a letter from Britain about the Rock that changes little.
Brussels dismissed the ‘completely silly’ Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (pictured yesterday in Brussels) in the aftermath of the Brexit deal after he threatened to derail the negotiations over Gibraltar
Pedro Sanchez (pictured giving a press conference yesterday) wrongly claimed he could have vetoed the Brexit deal – and then claimed ‘victory’ after receiving a letter from Britain about the Rock that changes little
Gibraltan tweeter Selwyn Figueras said the letter from the UK ‘does nothing to advance Spain’s position’ because Madrid has always had a veto over the final UK-EU trade deal.
Anne-Marie warned the latest row showed the need to be ‘vigilant’ about whether Mrs May could crumble under pressure and ‘sell us out’.
Twitter user Evan Davis said Mr Sanchez was behaving like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, making statements of victory regardless of the facts.
Mr Sanchez was able to claim last night the assurances he received from London meant talks on ‘joint sovereignty’ over the Rock for the first time since 1713.
Mrs May has insisted she gave nothing away because Gibraltar already sits outside the EU customs regime and Spain would have a full veto on the final trade deal.
But she has been lashed by Brexiteers at home for even giving the impression of climbdown to get a deal they already loath.
One senior EU diplomat told The Times: ‘It is a completely silly and empty thing,’
‘It is really outrageous,’ another senior EU diplomat told The Telegraph of the move.
‘It is trying to turn back history for more than 300 years. There is no scrap of justification.’
Gibraltan tweeter Selwyn Figueras said the letter from the UK ‘does nothing to advance Spain’s position’ because Madrid has always had a veto over the final UK-EU trade deal
Anne-Marie warned the latest row showed the need to be ‘vigilant’ about whether Mrs May could crumble under pressure and ‘sell us out’
Twitter user Evan Davis said Mr Sanchez was behaving like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, making statements of victory regardless of the facts
Mr Sanchez, who only has a minority government, propped up by other parties, has been accused of trying to strengthen his position on Gibraltar ahead of voting next year.
He faces local, regional and European Parliament elections due on May 26 2019 – and could face a general election on the same day to make a ‘super Saturday’ of voting.
As yesterday’s summit came to a close, Mr Sanchez gloated: ‘We are going to resolve a conflict that has been going for over 300 years.
‘This puts Spain in a position of strength in negotiations with the United Kingdom over Gibraltar that we have not had until now.
‘We all lose [with Brexit], especially the United Kingdom, but regarding Gibraltar, Spain wins.’
Mr Sanchez was able to claim last night the assurances he received from London meant talks on ‘joint sovereignty’ over the Rock (pictured yesterday) for the first time since 1713
Gibraltar is a major tourist destination and is home to British pubs (pictured is the Horseshoe yesterday) and other UK culture
In her own press conference, Mrs May insisted she had given nothing away.
She said: ‘Let no one be in any doubt: for the future partnership the UK will be negotiating for the whole UK family, including Gibraltar.
‘I am proud that Gibraltar is British and its constitutional status will not change.’
Brexiteer Tories are unconvinced.
Nigel Evans said: ‘To sell out 17.5 million people [who voted to leave the EU] with her Brexit deal is one thing, to go against the wishes of the DUP who keep us in power is another.
‘But to sell out the utterly patriotic British people who live on Gibraltar is simply beyond the pale.’
Theresa May (pictured in Brussels yesterday) has insisted she gave nothing away because Gibraltar already sits outside the EU customs regime and Spain would have a full veto on the final trade deal
The Ribble Valley MP added: ‘Theresa May is dining in Brussels with people who are delighted with her deal – in fact they could have written it themselves.
‘But on Monday she will return to a very different atmosphere in Westminster – one of betrayal.’
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell also slammed her over Spanish negotiations, saying: ‘The Prime Minister has to show that she will be utterly true to her words that there will be no compromise on Britain’s right to defend and negotiate on behalf of Gibraltar.
‘She must vow that Spanish attempts to use this constitutional weapon to try somehow to divide the Rock and the UK will not work.’
Tory Eurosceptic Nadine Dorries said: ‘May has capitulated to every single EU demand. She’s abandoned Northern Ireland, and now Gibraltar. At no time does she push back.’
Mrs May’s approach has been endorsed by Gibraltar’s first minister Fabian Picardo.
He said: ‘We do not need to wait until the start of the talks.
Mr Sanchez’s comments have been met with fury by Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo, who likened his tactics to the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco (pictured)
‘I can tell Spain now: we are not interested in any dilution of our sovereignty, we are not interested in allowing for even the remotest concession to Spanish sovereignty, jurisdiction or control.’
Independent Gibraltar MP Marlene Hassan Nahon said: ‘As things stand, there is a lot of uncertainty within Mrs May’s Cabinet leaving Gibraltar by consequence, at the mercy of the goings on in Westminster with the very real possibility of us having to completely go back to the drawing board if the deal doesn’t go through.’
Before the summit, GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: ‘There is no place for subjecting our rights as a people or our inclusion in the negotiations on a future relationship with the EU to bilateral discussions between the UK and Spain.’
Mr Sanchez was elected to office this summer, when he became the first Spanish politician to take over as a Prime Minister through a vote of no confidence.
He unseated his long-term enemy Mariano Rajoy, despite not being an MP and having to resign from his party, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) in 2016 over his refusal to accept Rajoy’s return.
Before coming into politics he worked for the UN in Bosnia and as an economics professor.
He has had a difficult year with the outbreaks of violence in Catalonia and anger from his opposition parties about Spain’s long-term economic problems.