The Prime Minister secured the finishing touches to her Brexit deal after a series of eleventh-hour negotiations with the European Union’s most senior officials in Brussels tonight. Having overcome Spanish threats to sink the deal at tomorrow’s special summit, the Prime Minister met with EU’s three presidents – Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk and Antonio Tajani. Madrid, London and Brussels reached a last-minute compromise after a week’s worth of posturing from Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish prime minister, and his ministerial team.
Mrs May told reporters in Brussels: “Let me just say a word about the position regarding Gibraltar, we have worked through the withdrawal issues for Gibraltar with Spain in a sensible and constructive way and I would like to pay tribute to the statesmanship with which Fabian Picardo has led the negotiations on behalf of Gibraltar.
“We have assured Gibraltar is covered by the whole withdrawal agreement the implementation period and we will always negotiate on behalf of the whole UK family, including Gibraltar, and in the future relationship we will stand up for their interests.
“The UK’s position on the sovereinty of Gibraltar has never changed and will not change.”
Mr Sanchez had threatened to boycott the summit unless he received British assurances that he would have a veto over any UK-EU future trade and security deal involving Gibraltar.
Brexit news: Theresa May hits back at Spanish victory claims in Gibraltar row
But he climbed down after Britain published a declaration confirming Gibraltar would not necessarily be covered by the future deal with the EU.
Despite Mrs May’s tough statement, Spain has marketed the arrangement as a diplomatic victory.
The Spanish prime minister claimed Britain would have to open talks with Spain on the “joint sovereignty” over Gibraltar.
Mr Sanchez told reporters: “Once the UK has left the EU, Gibraltar’s political, legal and even geographic relationship with the EU will go through Spain.
“Spain will be a fundamental pillar of the relationship between Gibraltar and the EU as a whole.
“When it comes to the future political declaration, the European council and the European commission have backed Spain’s position, and backed it as never before.
“In these fundamental future negotiations, we’re going to have to talk about joint sovereignty and many other things with the UK.”
Mr Sanchez’s foreign minister Josep Borrell described the agreement as the “most important one since the Utrecht Treaty of 1713”, which saw Britain handed sovereignty of Gibraltar.
He said: “The agreement on Gibraltar reached today within the framework of Brexit negotiations is highly positive for spain and the most important one since the Utrecht Treaty of 1713.”
Theresa May signed off an eleventh-hour deal to ensure tomorrow’s summit goes ahead
In order to accept the Brexit deal at tomorrow’s special summit, Spain demanded written declarations from the EU27 and UK to back up promises that no future trade deal between Brussels and Britain can include Gibraltar without Madrid’s permission.
A leaked summit document obtained by Express.co.uk shows the EU27’s commitment to the promise by showing solidarity with Spain.
The document reads: “After the United Kingdom leaves the union, Gibraltar will not be included in the territorial scope of the agreements to be concluded between the union and the United Kingdom.”
The EU27 go on to warn that any seperate deal involving Gibraltar will “require a prior agreement of the Kingdom of Spain”.
Madrid stopped with its threats after Mr Sanchez spoke with Mr Tusk, the European Council president, on the phone earlier today.
After their discussion, Mr Tusk published his official invitiation to European leaders, who will endorse the withdrawal agreement and politicial declaration on the future UK-EU relationship tomorrow.
Mr Tusk wrote: “During these negotiations, no one wanted to defeat anyone. We were all looking for a good and fair agreement. And I believe that we have finally found the best possible compromise.
“Given all of the above, I will recommend that on Sunday we approve the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. And although no one will have reasons to be happy on that day, there is one thing I would like to stress: at this critical time, the EU27 has passed the test of unity and solidarity.”