Gibraltar outraged that Spain has veto power over its future

The astounding error may have left loophole which is likely to spark a furious stand-off between Britain and Spain during future Brexit talks.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said this was "unacceptable".

"This is a disgraceful attempt by Spain to manipulate the European council for its own, narrow political interests".

Accusing Madrid of seeking to "mortgage the future relationship between the European Union and Gibraltar to its usual obsession with our homeland", Mr Picardo said: "The whole world and the whole European Union should know: this changes nothing in respect of our continued, exclusive British sovereignty".

"As ever, the United Kingdom remains implacable and rock-like in our support for Gibraltar", Johnson tweeted after the conversation.

It hands Spain, which has long held ambitions to reclaim sovereignty of the territory, significant power over Gibraltar's future.

"We have been firm in our commitment never to enter arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their wishes, nor to enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content", May said.

I'm no jingoist, but the EU's Brexit stance on Gibraltar is shameful - trying to give Spain an effective veto over the future of a British sovereign territory, against the will of its people.

Insisting that the guidelines would allow Spain "to discriminate against the British people of Gibraltar", he said: "Gibraltar is not going to be a political pawn in Brexit, neither is it going to be a victim of Brexit".

Gibraltar is an outpost of Britishness at the mouth of the Mediterranean - and has been for 300 years. Gibraltar has remained on the list ever since.

"They now face the prospect of becoming pawns in a government showdown between Tories pushing for a new trade deal outside the single market and those who believe that the sovereignty of the United Kingdom overseas territory is non-negotiable".

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With over 700,000 Britons in Spain, they too could become bargaining chips as the diplomatic battle rages on.

Gibraltar's government has ruled out any dilution of sovereignty in return for continued access to the European single market or other benefits attached to EU membership.

Beside Gibraltar, the Council guidelines include other United Kingdom border issues affected by Brexit, including between Nothern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where "flexible and imaginative solutions will be required", to avoid a hard border, the text says. Spain ceded it officially in perpetuity in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

Its military bases at the mouth of the Med, only 12 miles from the coast of North Africa, remain strategically important. The move is a boost to the Spanish, who have historically tried to regain control over the territory.

The Gibraltar question remains a fractious one for the U.K. -Spain relationship.

Despite repeated demands by Morocco that the cities should be returned to its territory, Spain refuses to do so.

Contrary to what some officials expected, the guidelines included a clear reference to Gibraltar.

Llamas also said Gibraltar was looking at securing a bilateral agreement with Spain over local border traffic regulation after the implementation of the new Schengen border amendments.

The sovereignty row between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar regularly stokes nationalist sentiment in both countries.

The "illegal incursion" saw a Guardia Civil boat pursue Dale Villa while he was on his jet-ski near West Beach.

  • Megan Austin