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Sovereignty of Gibraltar not on the table in Brexit talks, says chief minister

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has called on the Government to ensure that Brexit is not used as a ‘cloak’ for giving up Gibraltar.

The question of Gibraltar’s sovereignty must not be reopened as a result of Brexit, the Rock’s chief minister has said.

Fabian Picardo is in London for talks with Brexit ministers over the negotiations, which have thrust the status of the British overseas territory back into the spotlight.

The European Council sparked anger in Gibraltar with negotiating guidelines which granted Spain a veto over the territory’s fate after Brexit.

Mr Picardo said that Gibraltar’s parliament holds its own veto, with the power to decide which parts of the final Brexit agreement will apply to the 30,000 inhabitants of the Mediterranean outpost.

But he said there was no question of reopening discussions on its future status, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Sovereignty is something which is settled. It was settled in the Helsinki accords and in Utrecht that the sovereignty of Gibraltar belongs to the UK and the people of Gibraltar.

“We don’t barter with sovereignty today as if we were in the 17th century, with kings passing around sovereignty of pieces of land. What we do is look at the interests of the people. What we do is talk to people and ask them what matters.

“We are very linked to the UK, we see the world through British eyes and we don’t want to change that.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable urged the Government to be firmer in its defence of Gibraltar’s links to the UK after Brexit.

Sir Vince told the BBC: “It is an issue of fundamental principle. This has been attached to the UK for two centuries. We have seen off repeated demands by Spain to have control over the Rock, which has been a fundamental part of British interests.

“We shouldn’t allow Brexit to be used as a cloak for giving away what is a substantial British commitment.

“Let’s not forget that all of these people want to remain in the UK just as much as the majority of people in Northern Ireland.”

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