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The Spanish government is to agree a deal with the Rock in a bid to keep the border open – and allow the 15,000 people who cross daily to work in Gibraltar to continue doing so. A Spanish diplomatic source warned any deal aimed at creating a “shared prosperity zone” in Gibraltar was unlikely without a trade deal between the UK and the EU.
What is lacking is the political will to close the deal
Spanish diplomatic source
With barely two months before the end of the transition period on December 31, such a deal is currently hanging in the balance.
The insider said: “We’ve made our suggestions, explored technical solutions on how to get there.
“What is lacking is the political will to close the deal.
“The ball is in the United Kingdom’s court.”
The source said failure to reach a side deal on Gibraltar, a British overseas territory over which Spain maintains a sovereignty claim, would carry a heavy social, economic and political cost.
The British Foreign Office has not responded to a request for comment.
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Gibraltar has welcomed Spain’s “pragmatism” on its key demand that their mutual border remain fully open, and the source expressed hope that that spirit would ultimately prevail.
The Rock, located on the southern tip of Spain, has a population of just 32,000.
The port, which Spain ceded to Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, also welcomes some 10 million tourists per year, a sector which accounts for about a quarter of its economy.
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Spain has agreed to put the issue of sovereignty aside in order to focus on efforts to keep the border open.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo revealed he had spoken to Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month, and had received assurances that Britain would never abandon the Rock in any circumstances.
He said: “The Prime Minister was clear and unequivocal in his support for Gibraltar, in particular in the context of the ongoing negotiations for the future relationship with the EU.
“Gibraltar wants a good deal to be done which maximises frontier fluidity for persons and goods and which secures greater prosperity for all.
“We believe that with goodwill, good faith and a good negotiation, a deal can be done that can deliver real benefits without any of the negotiating parties having to cross any of their red lines.
“What we will not do is recommend a deal to Gibraltar’s Parliament if it does cross our well known, historic and irrenouncible red lines.
“I know Gibraltar has the Prime Minister’s support for our position.”
Mr Picardo said Mr Johnson had restated the UK’s “adamantine” commitment.
Yesterday, responding to reports that Spain and Gibraltar were working towards securing a last-minute deal yesterday, Mr Picardo tweeted: “For #Gibraltar, I say We are ready to deliver a deal so long as it is secure, sovereignty neutral and positive for all sides.”
HM Government of Gibraltar declined to comment when contacted by Express.co.uk.
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