David Cameron raises 'serious concerns' with Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, as Gibraltar tensions grow

Mariano Rajoy rebuffs PM's appeal to scale back contentious border checks

Deputy Political Editor

Tensions between London and Madrid over Gibraltar are growing after the Spanish Prime Minister rebuffed an appeal by David Cameron to scale back contentious border checks with the British territory.

Mr Cameron called his counterpart, Mariano Rajoy, to spell out his "serious concerns" after the Spanish government raised the prospect of imposing a €50 (£43) on vehicles entering Gibraltar and closing Spanish airspace to flights heading for the Rock.

The diplomatic crisis - which blew up over a dispute over fishing waters - was brought to a head at the weekend as drivers were forced to queue for up to six hours before they were allowed to cross into Gibraltar.

Britain has already registered a formal complaint to the Madrid and is understood to be contemplating legal action to get the moves blocked.

Mr Cameron warned his counterpart in a 15-minute phone call of the "real risk" of harm to relations between the countries unless the problems over frontiers checks were resolved.

Downing Street said he had obtained a promise from Mr Rajoy to reduce the protracted checks at the border.

However, a statement from the Spanish Prime Minister's office painted a different picture. It made no reference to cutting border checks and reported he had told Mr Cameron "the adopted measures were perfectly in accordance with the Schengen border code", which governs travel between EU member states.

British officials acknowledged there was still much work ahead to "de-escalate" the stand-off.

Nor was there any prospect of Brussels brokering a rapid solution to the stand-off. The European Commission is sending a team to examine the border controls, but does not expect talks to take place with Spain on the issue until next month at the earliest.

It confirmed the controls are allowed because Gibraltar is not part of the Schengen agreement, which permits people to travel freely within the Schengen area of 26 countries. But it stressed checks had to be proportionate.

Speaking after the call, Mr Cameron said the delays faced by Gibraltarians were unacceptable and said Britain would always stand up for them.

"Of course there is a fishing dispute between Gibraltar and Spain and that needs to be settled and we agreed that should be settled but it is not right to escalate things in the way that has been done and I made that very clear to the Spanish prime minister.

"We agreed that our foreign ministers would speak and try to resolve these issues," he said.

Giles Paxman, the UK's ambassador to Spain, has delivered a formal protest over the moves to Gonzalo de Benito, the Spanish foreign secretary.

Jose Garcia-Margallo, a foreign minister, said the proceeds of a border fee could be used to help Spanish fishermen who have lost out because of damage to fishing grounds allegedly caused by Gibraltarian authorities following the creation of an artificial reef.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, spoke to Mr Garcia-Margallo to reinforce Britain's message the continuing delays were "disproportionate". He said: "I urged the Spanish authorities to de-escalate the situation."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Travel
travelFrom Notting Hill Carnival to Zombeavers at FrightFest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Service Desk Engineer-(Support, ITIL, Software Vendor)

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Engineer-(Support, S...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Service Delivery and Support Manager

£55000 - £75000 per annum + excellent benefits: Harrington Starr: Service Deli...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home