Rajoy reassures May on position of Britons in Spain after UK leaves EU
Theresa May, British prime minister, continued her Brexit tour of European capitals on Thursday with a visit to Madrid.
May met with her Spanish counterpart, acting-PM Mariano Rajoy, at his official residence, La Moncloa.
The main item on the agenda of the bilateral talks was the impact of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union on the rights of the over 100,000 Spanish citizens who live in Britain and the estimated 310,000 UK citizens who are resident in Spain.
According to a statement issued after the meeting Rajoy told May that British firms in Spain as well as residents and the “millions of tourists” need not worry, just as Spanish residents in the UK can be reassured that Spain will defend their interests.
Although nothing can be decided until Britain invokes Article 50, Rajoy had previously released a reassuring message on Twitter that said, “We will work together to preserve the important ties that join Spain and the UK.” Rajoy stressed his regret at the UK’s decision to leave and defended the future integrity of the rest of the EU countries.
Scotland and Gibraltar
With an eye on his own Catalan separatist issue, Rajoy told May that Spain would support the “integrity of the UK” in any renewed attempts by Scotland to become an independent country and stay in the EU.
There was no confirmation that Gibraltar was discussed, although diplomatic sources thought it unlikely that the subject could be avoided.
The acting-Spanish government has used the uncertainty over Brexit to repeat its historic demands for eventual sovereignty over the Rock.
Speaking in London on the same day as May’s visit to Madrid, Boris Johnson, UK foreign secretary, said that the UK will maintain “a completely implacable, marmoreal and rocklike resistance” to any attempt to change the status of Gibraltar.source surinenglish