Gibraltar row with UK over Spain border fee prompts crisis talks

British Overseas Territory’s Chief Minister accuses Spanish government of behaving like North Korea

David Cameron said today he was “seriously concerned” about the escalating tension with Spain after the country’s Foreign Minister José Garcia-Margallo threatened to impose a levy on every vehicle that crosses the border between Spain and Gibraltar.

Officials held crisis talks with their Spanish counterparts and the British Overseas Territory’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, was moved to describe the comments from Madrid as “reminiscent of the type of statement you’d hear from North Korea than from an EU partner”.

Mr Picardo told Radio 4’s Today programme that the recent deterioration in relations represented “sabre-rattling of the sort that we haven’t seen for some time”.

He went on: “We’ve seen it before during Franco’s time during the 1960s but I think all of us hoped that those politics were never going to come back.”

Speaking to the right-wing Spanish newspaper, ABC, at the weekend, Mr Garcia-Margallo threatened to close Spanish air space to flights in and out of Gibraltar, to begin tax investigations of thousands of Gibraltarians who own property in Spain, and to impose a €50 (£43) “congestion charge” on every vehicle going in or out of Gibraltar.

A Downing Street spokesman said yesterday that British officials have been trying to find out from their Spanish counterparts how seriously to take the threats. “Specifically on this issue of border fees, the Spanish have not raised the prospect of introducing border fees with us.

“We are seeking an explanation from them regarding reports that they might target Gibraltar with further measures,” he said.

Two weeks ago, Gibraltan boats began dumping concrete blocks in the sea to create an artificial reef – which the administration claims will protect the environment and prevent Spanish boats illegally fishing in their waters. Spain claims that the reef infringes the rights of Spanish fishermen.

The Spaniards retaliated with stricter border checks which have caused long queues of traffic trying to get in or out of Gibraltar. Gibraltar has complained to the EU, and last week, the Spanish ambassador was called to the Foreign Office for “consultations”.

Spain’s right-wing government has been struggling with limited success to cope with the consequences of the 2008 banking crisis, and has been hit by a corruption scandal involving the former treasurer of the governing People’s Party,

Luis Barcenas, who maintained a series of illicit accounts filled with money from donors seeking lucrative government contracts.

Mr Garcia-Margello’s threat of an economic war with the UK was made on the 309th anniversary of the capture of Gibraltar. Spain claims that the rocky outpost is their territory, but the UK has insisted that it will not surrender sovereignty.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments