Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has defended his government’s co-sovereignty proposal for Gibraltar and reiterated that Spain will use Brexit to push its sovereignty aspirations over the Rock. Rajoy made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with Agence France Presse. “I think that our proposal of shared sovereignty is very reasonable,” he said.
“I think from a legal point of view Gibraltar’s position is very clear. As soon as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, Gibraltar also leaves and, as such, will have nothing to do with the European Union.”
“We are going to ask that all decisions affecting Gibraltar be made bilaterally between the UK and Spain.” During the interview, Rajoy said he was confident that Britain and Spain would reach a deal to protect the rights of their respective citizens after Brexit.
Up to one million Britons are estimated to be living in Spain, many of them pensioners enjoying sunnier climes.
They currently receive healthcare coverage under EU mechanisms that give them the same treatment as locals, but this access could become prohibitively expensive once Britain leaves the EU.
“I am absolutely convinced that we will reach an agreement so that these people will not be affected by political decisions,” Rajoy affirmed.
“I hope that we will soon be able to tell them: Don’t worry, nothing is going to change for the Spaniards in the United Kingdom, nor for the Britons in Spain,” he said.
He said the negotiations would start after an EU summit that will convene once Britain formally begins its EU divorce proceedings, expected for the end of March.
He also noted the importance of British tourism to his country, which attracts more visitors from Britain than any other country.
“Last year 17 million Britons came to Spain, and we want that to continue,” he said. “They like it, and so do we.”