Former British Minister for Europe Peter Hain shook hands on a deal for the future of Gibraltar with his Spanish counterpart; it has emerged in press reports from Wales. But hours later the Spanish Government reneged on the agreement. Details of the deal that almost was came to light this week in an article in the Western Mail. Mr Hain is currently Minister for Wales where the paper is published.
According to the newspaper hours later the Spanish Government reneged on the agreement.
Foreign Office sources confirmed Mr Hain, now Welsh Secretary, agreed a co-sovereignty deal for the Rock with his Spanish counterpart Ramon de Miguel in Madrid last April. The agreement followed intensive negotiations lasting six months, but by the time Mr Hain had arrived at Heathrow Airport, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had received a phone call canceling the deal.
It had been vetoed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.
A Foreign Office source, according to the Western Mail said that, "Jack Straw's phone call came from the then Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique.
He thought Pique was calling to congratulate him on the deal. In fact the Spanish had decided to renege on the agreement reached with Peter Hain.
"The deal would have seen sovereignty over Gibraltar shared, with the UK retaining control of the military base, and the package put to Gibraltarians in a referendum".
The Foreign Office source said, "All of the bottom line positions put forward by Peter Hain were accepted by Ramon de Miguel, but it seems that afterwards they wanted to push further, something that was completely unacceptable to us". "They thought they could pull a fast one on us, but it didn't work. We'd been prepared to take risks, but in the end they bottled it."
When asked about the deal Mr Hain said, "I can't comment on what were detailed private negotiations, except to say that at that time there was a brilliant history-making deal for Gibraltar, Britain and Spain in prospect."
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