MPs warn that Brits could be blocked from entering Gibraltar because of Brexit deal

A Commons committee has warned that a post-Brexit deal for Gibraltar could have “serious” consequences

David Maddox
Political editor
Thursday 09 May 2024 19:04 BST
Gibraltar residents in limbo after Brexit

Brexiteers on a parliamentary committee have warned that British citzens and Nato personnel could be blocked by the EU from entering Gibraltar if “the Rock” goes ahead with settlement it had to negotiate because of the UK leaving the EU.

Following Brexit, Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo has been negotiating a deal with the EU to allow the outpost and home of a British naval base to enjoy free movement of people with the EU.

It comes after decades of problems at the border with Spain which claims Gibraltar for its own. But the border issue became a crisis for Gibraltans when the UK left the EU and in effect ended freedom of movement.

The UK has had control over Gibraltar since 1713 via the Treaty of Utrecht as part of the compensation for Britain to withdraw from the War of the Spanish Succession.

British and EU flags fly next to Gibraltar’s flag (AFP/Getty)

But now MPs fear that British sovereignty over the protectorate will be diluted or remain “in name only” as a result of the post-Brexit deal which Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron is understood to support.

The European Scrutiny Committee, under the chairmanship of hardline Brexiter Sir William Cash, have likened the deal to the one for Northern Ireland which has seen that part of the UK remain subject to EU laws and in the European songle market.

In a letter to foreign minister David Rutley, Sir William warned that the proposed deal as outlined by Government ministers in an evidence session on 30 April amounts to a “serious diminution of UK sovereignty”.

Among major concerns for the committee is how UK nationals and Gibraltarians will be handled if Schengen controls were introduced at Gibraltar’s airport rather than the border – a move the Committee says would render “Gibraltar’s frontier British in all but name.”

Cameron is said to support the deal (REUTERS)

It labelled the practical implications of people being checked to enter their own territory as “seismic” with the EU due to introduce a new Entry/Exit regime in October, people returning to Gibraltar or Brits travelling there for work, could be forced to undergo biometric registration.

MPs claimed that ministers have failed to answer important questions on the impact of the introduction of Schengen checks on ordinary citizens entering their own territory.

It remains “unclear whether any time spent in Gibraltar by UK nationals would count towards the 90 days in 180 days permitted for non-EU nationals in the Schengen Area”, the letter said.

With the airport and the broader Gibraltar peninsula doubling up as a strategic UK military base, the Committee raised concerns over the powers EU border guards could theoretically have to block UK and NATO military personnel from entering the territory.

The letter demanded that any change in status of the airport “no matter how small or innocuous, must be ruled out”.

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