The Government of Gibraltar warned that it could deprive the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Spanish and other EU workers within its borders if Madrid uses its veto power to exclude the British territory from the Brexit Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

According to the EU negotiating guidelines published in April 2017, Gibraltar will be excluded from future trade agreements with Britain after Brexit, if the United Kingdom has not previously reached an agreement with Spain on the status of the territory, which effectively gives Madrid a veto right.

Gibraltar Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia said that the Spanish veto clause is illegal and that its use will be challenged in court.

“We have been consulted by the most experienced lawyers in Britain who have told us that the clause is illegal. Our position is that if Spain uses its veto right, we will challenge it in court, whatever it means for Brexit”, Garcia said.

According to Garcia’s words, if Gibraltar is excluded from the Brexit agreement, his government would be forced to review the rights of EU citizens living and working there, as well as the status of 13 000 workers who cross the border of Spain daily.

“Our opinion is that we are no longer obliged to grant European citizens’ rights that are prescribed in the exit agreement, as well as a transition period because it will not apply to us”, added Garcia.

2000 European citizens live in Gibraltar. About 800 of the Europeans who settled there are Spaniards, Garcia, who is also the leader of the Gibraltar Liberal Party, said.

96% of Gibraltar inhabitants, who are British citizens from 1713, voted overwhelmingly against Brexit on 23 June 2016. Up to 96% of voters cast their ballots in favour of remaining within the EU.