Brexit deal almost done, but Spain holds out over Gibraltar

Brexit deal almost done, but Spain holds out over Gibraltar

Brexit deal almost done, but Spain holds out over Gibraltar

Agreement of the draft political declaration clears the way for a special Brexit summit to go ahead in Brussels on Sunday, when leaders of the 27 remaining European Union states are expected to give their stamp of approval to the declaration alongside the 585-page withdrawal agreement setting out the terms of the UK's departure.

"We have to say honestly that, in the services sector, we don't have a great deal of experience with worldwide free trade agreements", she said.

A draft 26-page political declaration setting out the framework for the future UK-EU relationship was published on Thursday, with the document attacked by critics for its vagueness.

Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, has said his government is "annoyed" over the issue of Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory on the Spanish coast, and France is understood to have sought amendments to the wording on fishing rights in United Kingdom waters.

But her rosy predictions met with resistance on many fronts in Parliament, which is expected to vote on the Brexit plan next month.

British MPs of all parties criticized the divorce agreement announced last week, which includes a financial settlement and a controversial plan to avoid a hard Irish border.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said: "The government needs to recognise that there is no enthusiasm for the withdrawal agreement across all sides of the House of Commons".

Madrid wants a veto over applying any agreement on post-transition relations to Gibraltar, but May told MPs that Britain "will not exclude Gibraltar from our negotiations on the future relationship".

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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They have already warned they could reject the deal if it leads to the province being separated from the rest of the UK.

Madrid wants a veto over applying any agreement on post-transition relations to Gibraltar, while some European Union countries including France have voiced concerns about access to British fishing waters after Brexit.

He said diplomats would meet Friday to prepare Sunday's summit, and "they will need to see a final text before then".

Conservative rebels have vowed to defeat the prime minister while the Northern Ireland DUP, which props up her minority government, has threatened to break its deal with the prime minister.

"That deal is within our grasp and I am determined to deliver it", said May, who heads back to Brussels on Saturday for further meetings with European Commission President Jean-Claude ahead of the crucial summit on Sunday.

May, who spoke to Prime Minister Sanchez about the issue on Thursday, took a firm line, however.

"Actually, if that was still on the agenda and it isn't - it isn't on the agenda - that would resolve Gibraltar's predicament because it could stay British but also be, as it were, part-Spanish".

But late Thursday Sanchez maintained his threat to scupper the deal. "We will work with the governments of Gibraltar and Spain".

He added: "Do we believe that they will change their mind?"

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