Spain and United Kingdom reach preliminary agreement on Gibraltar

Spain and United Kingdom reach preliminary agreement on Gibraltar

Spain has said that it will vote against a deal agreed between London and Brussels for Britain's departure from the bloc, or Brexit, if it does not guarantee Madrid's veto over Gibraltar's future status.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has indicated she will not attend Sunday's meeting of European leaders - which has been called to approve the draft terms of the UK's withdrawal - unless the text on future co-operation is agreed in advance. Critics of the agreement struck by May believe it gives away too much to the EU, including control over locking the United Kingdom into a Customs Union in future.

Brexit might not happen after all, warned Prime Minister Theresa May during a typically feisty PMQs, as she implored MPs to support her withdrawal agreement.

"Most businesses are not prepared for a no deal Brexit and don't know really how to prepare", said Michael Saunders, a member of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee, the board which sets interest rates. The controversial withdrawal agreement is the result of months of negotiations on both sides and is aimed at preventing the prospect of Britain crashing out of the European Union without any deal.

"We no longer have a functioning government".

When asked if the Government could rely on the DUP in future votes, such as those on the Brexit deal, the source said: "I've given you my answer".

Spain wants the right to negotiate the future on Gibraltar with Britain on a bilateral basis.

The withdrawal treaty itself is all but final, and preparations are under way for Sunday's summit to sign it, but there remains the matter of the parallel 20-page political declaration on future relations.

British Prime Minster Theresa May says Brexit is close to being a reality
British Prime Minster Theresa May says Brexit is close to being a reality

Having seen off - at least for now - a potential leadership challenge by hardline Brexiteers in her own party, she hoped to wring out of Brussels a Brexit arrangement that she can sell to her parliament. It insists arrangements relating to Gibraltar, a small British territory on the southern tip of Spain, should be discussed separately.

May is under intense pressure from pro-Brexit and pro-EU British lawmakers opposing the divorce deal.

This would keep all of Britain in the EU's customs union, and Northern Ireland also in parts of the single market.

"We are following the latest developments with growing concern and incomprehension - among the EU27 our Spanish friends are all alone on this", an European Union diplomat told AFP.

May's deal is opposed by both supporters and opponents of Brexit within her party, the DUP's 10 lawmakers, the Labour Party and all other parties in parliament.

He described the DUP as a hard-line unionist party, adding they were "not well disposed" to taking advice from Irish governments.

Rebels led by MP Jacob Rees-Mogg failed in their attempt to force an immediate confidence vote in May's leadership, but warned they would keep trying.

She said businesses would benefit because Northern Ireland would "be a gateway to both the European Union market and the rest of the U.K.'s market".

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