Gibraltar has been a British territory since 1713. It has its own Parliament, and a governor, but its citizens are British citizens. Photo courtesy of Shuttertock
MADRID, June 24 (UPI) -- Spain is to press for joint sovereignty of Gibraltar with the UK following Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
Acting foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo stated that he hoped "the Spanish flag on the Rock" was now "much closer" to reality.
Gibraltar's cabinet was holding a crisis meeting Friday to discuss the implications of the vote. The British territory of 32,000, on a peninsula attached to the south coast of Spain, voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, with 95.9 percent in favor of "remain."
Madrid has threatened to close its border with Gibraltar once the UK leaves the EU, something it has been prevented from doing by European rulers.
Garcia-Margallo said in a radio interview that he believed the Brexit vote could prove decisive for Spain's claim to Gibraltar. Spain ceded the peninsula to Britain in 1713 in the Treaty of Ultrecht.
"It's a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time," he said.
"I hope the formula of co-sovereignty – to be clear, the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before."
In a referendum staged in Gibraltar in 2002, nearly 99 per cent of those who voted rejected the idea of co-sovereignty with Spain.
David Lidington, the UK Minister for Europe, said "I want to be absolutely clear. The United Kingdom will continue to stand beside Gibraltar.
"We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against your wishes.
"Furthermore, the UK will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content."