Theresa May met EU boss Donald Tusk in 10 Downing Street today
The Prime Minister welcomed the top Brussels official to 10 Downing Street this afternoon for their first meeting since she formally triggered the UK’s exit from the EU.
Since sending her Article 50 letter to Mr Tusk last week, the European Council has since responded with draft negotiating guidelines for the remaining 27 EU member states.
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The draft document stunned the Government by including an effective veto for Spain on any future EU-UK trade deal that affects Gibraltar.
Since the Brexit vote last summer, Spain has consistently warned it will use the UK’s EU exit to raise its long-held sovereignty claim to the British Overseas Territory.
But the Prime Minister was “clear” with Mr Tusk the Government will not enter discussions over the sovereignty of ‘The Rock’, without the consent of Gibraltarians.
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Gibraltar has its own political system that makes many decisions within the territory but issues like defence and foreign affairs are determined by the UK Government in London
There will be no negotiation on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of its people
Downing Street spokesperson
Commenting on Mrs May’s meeting with the European Council chief, a Downing Street spokesperson said:“The Prime Minister and President of the European Council Donald Tusk had talks this afternoon in Downing Street following last week’s Article 50 notification.
“The Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s desire to ensure a deep and special partnership with the European Union following its exit, and noted the constructive approach set out by the Council in its draft guidelines published last week.
“She said the UK looked forward to formally beginning negotiations once the 27 Member States agreed guidelines. Both leaders agreed that the tone of discussions had been positive on both sides, and agreed that they would seek to remain in close touch as the negotiations progressed.
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“The Prime Minister also made clear that on the subject of Gibraltar, the UK’s position had not changed: the UK would seek the best possible deal for Gibraltar as the UK exits the EU and there would be no negotiation on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of its people.
“With the UK also remaining a full and engaged member of the EU for the next two years, the Prime Minister and Donald Tusk also discussed the agenda for the next EU Council meeting.”
On leaving 10 Downing Street after the meeting, Mr Tusk declined to talk to reporters, simply saying "no" when asked a series of questions including whether Gibraltar had been discussed and what the tone of the talks had been.
Mr Tusk had to exit Downing Street via a back way because a protest by black cab drivers blocked the main entrance.
When asked if the talks had been successful, Mr Tusk replied: "As always."
He later posted on Twitter: "Meeting PM May to make sure Brexit talks get off to good start. Agreed to stay in regular contact throughout process."