“The campaign for this [keeping Britain in the EU] should be done in the UK and not in Gibraltar,” Rajoy protested, despite the fact that Gibraltar natives have a right to vote in the referendum and fear they would be adversely affected by a Brexit.
Although Rajoy has decided not to call a meeting with the British ambassador in Spain, Simon Manley, he says the UK authorities ‘know perfectly well’ that Spain is ‘against the decision’ for Conservative prime minister David Cameron to campaign on the Rock, and that he has ‘reiterated this stance’ when his cabinet told him of the official visit.
Cameron’s visit has been suspended in light of the murder of pro-Remain Labour MP and popular social activist Jo Cox in what is thought to be a far-right attack by a Brexiteer described as having ‘mental health problems’, but this has not stopped Rajoy voicing his opinion on the planned trip.
In light of rumours that Spain may apply for joint sovereignty of Gibraltar if a Brexit vote wins, the acting PP president says it ‘would be unwise to jump the gun’ but stresses: “It is evident that Spain has always considered Gibraltar to be part of its national territory, and will continue to do so whatever happens in the referendum.”
“For Spain, Gibraltar will still be Spanish, whether the Brexit vote wins or loses,” he added.
Rajoy coincides with other European national leaders in believing the UK’s exit from the EU would be ‘bad for Britain’ and for all other member States, and would constitute ‘a backward step’ in the Union’s progress.
Various ministers in Spain are working on measures to be taken if a Brexit occurs, and Rajoy intends to meet with the Council of Europe’s president Donald Tusk next week to talk the issue through.
They aim to obtain a joint response from all the remaining 27 member States on how to tackle the numerous questions likely to be asked if the UK does indeed pull out.
“A period of negotiation would begin to determine the UK’s position in relation to the EU concerning such vital matters as the presence of numerous British nationals living in other European Union countries, since we would have to clarify what rights they would have,” Rajoy admitted.
“It will not be an easy process. It would last quite some time, and we would have to work on it jointly with all the other EU countries,” the caretaking president concluded.