by Brian BamfordIT now seems that Spain has was given an effective veto over the Brexit deal last Friday, when the EU Council's draft negotiating guidelines said Madrid could exclude Gibraltar.
It has been claimed Spain took this advantage when Theresa May failed to specifically mention Gibraltar in her Article 50 letter on Wednesday - prompting claims of a rift with the peninsula's government.
In the Spanish newspaper of record, El Pais yesterday, the journalist Lucia Abellan in an article entitled 'Spain could veto the application of a pact over Gibraltar between the EU and London' wrote:
'This situation leaves the British colony in a legal limbo that is able to force a negotiation between Madrid, and London.'
There have been continual tensions in the relations between Spain and Gibraltar since the days of General Franco in the 1960s, when I first worked in Gibraltar. I was living in Gibraltar at the time of the 'British We Are, British We Stay' referendum in 1967, shortly after which General Franco closed the frontier with La Linea completely.
Before that over 10,000 Spanish workers had been crossing that frontier from the Spanish towns of La Linea, San Roque and Algeciras to work in the dockyards and at the airport for the MOD each day. Today, similar numbers of Spaniards still work in Gibraltar despite the decline of the MOD as an employer. If Spain closed the frontier restricting this movement of labour then Gibraltar would have difficulties replacing the Spanish labour. It wouldn't be so easy to bring in labour from Africa as happened when the frontier was closed in the late 1960s under Franco.