UK Prime Minister Theresa May did not raise the issue of Gibraltar’s sovereignty during her meeting with the king of Spain despite the two countries not seeing “eye to eye” on the issue, Downing Street said on Thursday. A Number 10 spokeswoman said the Gibraltar “didn’t come up” and insisted Spain is “well aware” of Britain’s position that the Rock’s future is not up for discussion.
The Prime Minister has previously insisted that Gibraltar’s status will not be up for discussion during Brexit negotiations after the European Union’s guidelines for talks suggested its future economic status might be subject to a veto from Spain.
At a regular Westminster briefing, the spokeswoman said: “As we leave the EU we’re going to have to work with our partners to secure a deal that works for both sides, including Spain, and a deal that must work for Gibraltar and that will be something that we discuss throughout our Brexit negotiations.”
On Wednesday King Felipe VI sparked anger after saying the “two governments”, of his country and Britain, will find a solution on the Rock’s future that is “acceptable to all involved” in his address to both Houses of Parliament.
The Queen later appeared to have acknowledged the thorny issue, saying Britain and Spain did not always see “eye to eye” at the king’s state banquet.
Mrs. May hosted the monarch on Thursday for talks at Downing Street also attended by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Business Secretary Greg Clark.
The subject of Brexit also came up at the meeting, with the PM stressing that Britain has made the issue of EU citizens’ settlement rights “a priority” for negotiations.
“They also talked a bit about the contribution that Spaniards have made to UK life,” the spokeswoman said. “They discussed a bit more detail about the citizens’ rights proposals. It was a positive discussion where the Prime Minister set out our approach on citizens’ rights.”
Mrs. May and the king also discussed the two nations’ work together on trade and investment, defense, and science and innovation. The PM highlighted the scale of Spanish investment in the UK as a sign of the depth of commercial ties between the countries and agreed on the importance of standing up for free trade.