Spain agrees to back Brexit deal after securing concessions from Britain, EU

Muriel Colon
November 25, 2018

EU spokesman Preben Aamann said on Twitter Saturday that after a phone conversation between Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez and EU Council President Donald Tusk, "we are closer" to an agreement ahead of Sunday's EU summit in Brussels.

May hopes to leave European Union headquarters on Sunday with a legally binding agreement on the withdrawal terms for Britain's departure from the European Union on March 29, as well as an ambitious but vague political declaration on future relations between the two sides.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez claimed the United Kingdom and European Union had agreed to its demands for guarantees over the status of Gibraltar in future negotiations.

The nearly 800-word message is an attempt to speak directly to the public to build support for her deal, which faces widespread opposition at Westminster including from both wings of her Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party which props up her administration. And EU leaders warned that Britain could not hope to get a better offer.

"It's a sad day", Juncker said as he arrived.

Madrid's last-ditch threat to derail a hard-negotiated Brexit deal over Gibraltar has left some wondering how the tiny rocky British overseas territory came to play such a crucial role. "In parliament and beyond it, I will make the case for this deal with all my heart and I look forward to that campaign". "I think there will be a yes vote", he said.

The Prime Minister will set off for Brussels on Saturday for last minute talks with the European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker before putting pen to paper on the withdrawal treaty on Sunday.

Responding to May´s letter, Labour MP Stephen Doughty said it was "completely false" to claim the only options were her agreement or no deal.

Portugal's foreign minister said Saturday that he backed the Brexit deal, including Spain's request to have its say on Gibraltar's future.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has faced relentless criticism over her handling of Brexit and seen multiple Cabinet members leave as a result of negotiations, echoed Juncker's calls to accept the deal.

The deal must still be ratified by the European Parliament, something that its president, Antonio Tajani, said would likely take place early in 2019.

He highlighted too that the United Kingdom had made clear that it would negotiate for the whole United Kingdom family including Gibraltar, and the text of the Withdrawal Agreement had not been altered.

After nearly 18 months of tough negotiations, leaders of the 27 nations took just 38 minutes to approve the deal at a summit in Brussels today.

Johnson said that Prime Minister Theresa May's government is "making a historic mistake" if it goes forward with its Brexit plan.

It added a separate agreement covering Gibraltar "will require a prior agreement of the Kingdom of Spain".

British Prime Minister Theresa May, asked if she shared the unhappiness, said, "No, but I recognize that others do".

Parliament's vote could open the door to a "brighter future" or condemn the country to more division, she said.

Tajani said a "large majority" of European parliamentarians supported the deal.

European Union leaders met on Sunday to approve May's deal, with one declaring Britain's withdrawal a "tragedy".

British and European Union negotiators will still have to work out the terms of their future relationship, and although a 36-page declaration also approved Sunday set out some of the guidelines, much remained unresolved, including Britain's freedom to control large parts of its own economy.

Spain can expect its European allies to swing more clearly behind its 300-year-old claims to sovereignty over "The Rock", a British naval base on its southern coast that is home to some 30,000 people whose economy faces major questions after Brexit. "All the things we build the union on - the economic, the cultural, social, political and historical start to diverge".

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