BREXIT VICTORY: Spain drops desperate sovereignty claim over Gibraltar

Madrid’s largest political parties will drop their demand for joint control over the Rock while negotiations on a free-trade agreement between the UK and European Union are ongoing. The centre-right People’s Party had called for Spain’s government to “take advantage of the historic opportunity of Brexit” to snatch back the overseas territory from Britain. But Pedro Sanchez, the country’s left-wing prime minister, has convinced his allies to drop the claim due to the importance of striking a trade deal with the UK.

Spain has the power to veto any post-Brexit free-trade agreement from applying to Gibraltar, and is holding separate talks with Downing Street on a number of issues.

The two sides are hoping to broker deals on citizens’ rights, the environment, police and customs, and the sale of tobacco.

Despite protests from the PP, Spain’s reconstruction committee has agreed to ignore its sovereignty claim in order to facilitate a Brexit deal as it plots a path to recovery for its coronavirus-stricken economy.

Instead Madrid wants to focus on securing a positive deal between Spain and the UK that protects the country’s ties with Britain.

Meanwhile Angela Merkel warned her European colleagues to prepare for no deal after Boris Johnson told her the UK was ready to do business with the bloc on world trade terms.

Speaking at the EU Parliament in Brussels, the German Chancellor said only “slim progress” had been made after the two sides agreed to accelerate their negotiating efforts.

The veteran leader told MEPs: “One key partner will remain the United Kingdom.

“We need to shape our future relationship and that will keep us busy over the next six months.

“Progress in the negotiations thus far have been slim, to put it diplomatically. We’ve agreed with the UK to accelerate the pace of talks to reach an agreement by the autumn – an agreement that can be ratified by the end of the year.

“I will continue to push for a good solution but we should also prepare for a possible no deal scenario.”

During a phone call last night, the Prime Minister told Mrs Merkel Britain is prepared to trade leave the single market and customs union on the same terms as Australia has with the bloc.

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He said: “Useful discussion, and a nice dinner, with David Frost last night.

“The EU team will continue negotiating in good faith today.

“We are working hard for a fair agreement with the UK, including on fisheries and a level-playing field.”

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