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
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."
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
Royal Tour 2014: Is the Duchess of Cambridge the only person ever to climb into a fighter jet wearing a dress and high heels?
Kim Jong-un, crowds and contraband: Inside North Korea with the Pyongyang marathon winner
Cover up! Mother told to show less cleavage during Disneyland family trip: 'Are we supposed to wear turtlenecks our whole lives?'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...