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Brexit battle over Gibraltar

Monday, April 03, 2017 - 01:30

The future of Gibraltar, a rocky British outpost on Spain's southern tip, has become the first major dispute of the exit negotiations since Prime Minister Theresa May filed the formal divorce papers on March 29th. Ciara Lee reports.

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The first big battle of Brexit over, of all things, Gibraltar. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "The sovereignty of Gibraltar is unchanged is not going to change and cannot conceivably change without the express support and consent of the people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom and that is not going to change. Thank you." That after the EU's negotiating guidelines for Brexit - issued Friday - gave Spain a veto over Gibraltar's future relations with the EU. The British outpost in Southern Spain has long been claimed by Madrid, after three centuries of rule from London. Its people voted 99 percent to one to stay part of the UK in a 2002 referendum. Now they're worried that Spain might try to seize the territory as part of any Brexit deal. Senior Conservative peer Lord Howard comparing that to the Falklands conflict of 1982. Back then Britain mounted an invasion to expel Argentinean forces who had seized the islands. Howard says current leader Theresa May would be equally tough with Spain. SOUNDBITE (English) CITY INDEX MARKET ANALYST, KEN ODELUGA, SAYING: "Some of the rhetoric is just absolutely ridiculous. The suggestion we are going to go to war over Gibraltar. This is not 1981, Spain is not Argentina and Theresa May is not Margaret Thatcher." Just days into the Brexit process though, the language is already getting very heated.

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Brexit battle over Gibraltar

Monday, April 03, 2017 - 01:30