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."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Chelsea are interested in loaning out Romelu Lukaku to Everton again next season
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
people
Extras
indybest
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
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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?