Hands off Gibraltar: Britain blasts Spain over secret US lobbying
Hands off Gibraltar: Britain blasts Spain over secret American lobbying campaign to convince US politicians to back joint control of Mediterranean territory
- Congressmen approached by Spanish officials in Washington from 2014-19
- Suggested Gibraltarians get Spanish citizenship in exchange for joint control
- Downing Street said any such agreement was out of the question
Downing Street hit out at Spain this morning amid claims that Madrid lobbied US politicians to back joint-control of Gibraltar.
Several current and former members of Congress said they were approached by the Spanish embassy in Washington after backing the British Overseas Territory’s sovereignty.
The campaign lasted between 2014 and 2019 and involved the suggestion that Gibraltar citizens be given dual Spanish nationality and Madrid would get a say in its political system, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Today the Prime minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The people of Gibraltar have repeatedly and overwhelmingly expressed their wish to remain under British sovereignty and we will respect their wishes.
‘We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their wishes.
The campaign lasted between 2014 and 2019 and involved the suggestion that Gibraltar citizens be given dual Spanish nationality and Madrid would get a say in its political system, the Daily Telegraph reported
Britain and Spain, Nato allies, have clashed repeatedly in recent years over the tiny enclave at the mouth of the Mediterranean, which was ceded to Britain in 1713 and played a crucial role in the Second World War
‘Furthermore the UK will not enter into any process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.
‘We will continue to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard Gibraltar, its people and its economy including maintaining a well-functioning Gibraltar-Spain border.’
Britain and Spain, Nato allies, have clashed repeatedly in recent years over the tiny enclave at the mouth of the Mediterranean, which was ceded to Britain in 1713 and played a crucial role in the Second World War.
Its position has been thrown into even sharper focus since the Brexit vote, because of its sometimes frictious land border with Spain.
Citizens of The Rock, which overwhelmingly backed Remain at the 2016 referendum, have consistently pledged their allegiance to Britain, including in several referendums on the subject.
The serving congressmen who confirmed they were targeted were Republicans George Holding and David Rouzer (North Carolina), Ken Calvert and Paul Cook (California), and Jim Sensenbrenner (Wisconsin), plus Democrat Gerry Connolly (Virginia). A seventh, Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen (New Jersey), retired last year.
They told the Telegraph that the Spanish officials referred to Gibraltar as a ‘colony’ and at times were ‘belligerent’, ‘forceful’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘over the line’.
Mr Holding was previously awarded the Gibraltar Medallion of Honor for his support for the BOT’s self-determination.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, this morning tweeted: ‘We have been aware of this for some time and work to counter it.
‘The position of the ES (Spanish) embassy in DC has been robustly countered by Gib on a number of occasions. We hope that ES will see that it’s campaign of misinformation about Gib gets nowhere and that a new attitude will prevail.’
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