Why Spain’s Threat to Hold Up Brexit Over Gibraltar Is Theater

Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell attends a meeting in Brussels, July 17
Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell attends a meeting in Brussels, July 17 (European Council)

Spain has demanded greater clarity on the status of Gibraltar before signing off on the treaty that is meant to regulate Britain’s exit from the EU in March 2019.

“We want the interpretation to be clear in that text that the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU will not apply to Gibraltar,” Josep Borrell, the Spanish foreign minister, said on Monday.

Here is why his demand is a bit of a dud. Read more

May’s Brexit Deal Splits Conservative Party

British prime minister Theresa May
British prime minister Theresa May (PA/Philip Toscano)
  • Seven members of the British government, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, have resigned in protest to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
  • They — and many Conservatives — object to a potentially indefinite “backstop” in the withdrawal agreement that would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU in order to avoid closing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Read more

Everything You Need to Know About the Brexit Deal

British and European flags outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, January 29, 2016
British and European flags outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, January 29, 2016 (European Commission)

The United Kingdom has reached a provisional agreement with the EU about its withdrawal from the bloc in March 2019.

Here is a summary of what you need to know. Read more

May’s Is the Only Alternative to a No-Deal Brexit

British prime minister Theresa May attends the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017
British prime minister Theresa May attends the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Jay Allen)

After Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016, I argued here that the only alternative to a “hard” Brexit was a Norway-style deal under which Britain would stay in the EU customs union and single market.

I got it half-right. The draft agreement that is due to be published later today would — according to British media — see the United Kingdom exit the single market but remain in the customs union until a better solution can be found to prevent the return of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Britain would also respect the rights of the roughly three million EU nationals in the country. The one million Britons who live and work on the continent would be treated similarly. Read more

May Wins Cabinet Support for Brexit Treaty

British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker pose for photos in Brussels, December 4, 2017
British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker pose for photos in Brussels, December 4, 2017 (European Commission)
  • British prime minister Theresa May has won her cabinet’s support for a withdrawal agreement with the EU.
  • The challenge now is getting the treaty approved by her ruling Conservative Party and its allies in Northern Ireland. Read more

The Spanish Right’s Gibraltar Hypocrisy

View of the Spanish city of Ceuta from Gibraltar, January 30, 2011
View of the Spanish city of Ceuta from Gibraltar, January 30, 2011 (José Rambaud)

When Spain’s conservative People’s Party was in power, it promised not to exploit Britain’s exit from the EU to renegotiate the status of Gibraltar.

Now that the party is out of power, it blames the ruling Socialists for failing to do just that. Read more

Northern Ireland’s Unionists Threaten to Rebel Over Brexit

The skyline of Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 13
The skyline of Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 13 (Allan Leonard)

Northern Ireland’s conservatives have threatened to withhold their support from Theresa May’s 2019 budget proposal if the prime minister crosses their “red lines” on Brexit.

May needs the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland for her majority in Westminster. Read more