Britain seeks ally in Spain for upcoming Brexit talks

An old foe could turn into an ally during upcoming talks.

LAST UPDATED: 2 Mar, 2017 @ 14:14
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CALAIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 20: Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May speaks to the media at a press conference after signing an agreement to tackle the migrant crisis in Calais on August 20, 2015 in Calais, France. The Home Secretary arrived in Calais to announce a number of measures to deal with the migrant issue in which about 3,000 migrants are thought to be camped in Calais hoping to cross the Channel into Britain. Measures include the creation of a joint command centre to target criminals trafficking migrants into France and the UK. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)BRITAIN is looking to Spain as a potential ally for upcoming Brexit talks in the hope of securing a free-trade agreement once it leaves the European Union.

The major EU player has been touted as an ideal candidate thanks to trade and tourism ties, which Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will likely want to preserve.

Theresa May’s government is also looking to some of the EU’s newest members in the east, an approach which some view as part of a ‘divide and rule’ strategy.

Ignacio Molina, a senior analyst at Madrid-based think tank Real Instituto Elcano said: “In what relates to the core of Brexit – the U.K.’s departure from the interior market and the EU, and its re-connection as a trade partner – Spain will be a dove.”

While Spain won’t break European unity, ‘it is in the soft Brexit camp,’ he said.

May and Rajoy are said to have struck an understanding at an EU summit in Malta last month which includes an early agreement on mutual residency rights for citizens of both countries, establishing a glimmer of hope for Britain’s free-trade agreement.

Rajoy said in January: “We will try to preserve the economic benefits of a very intense relation, but that has to be done from the basic and founding principles of the European Union.”

With more than 300,000 Britons being registered as residents in Spain, and just under half of that number of Spaniards living in the UK, such a relationship with Spain is thought to be vital.

Along with this, other possible reasons for an alliance are the spending contributions by British tourists accounting for around 1.5 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product, and Spain’s €122 billion of corporate investment in the UK.

There are also concerns of maintaining a free flowing border between British territory Gibraltar and the Spanish mainland.

May is set to begin the divorce process from the EU this month.

9 COMMENTS

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  1. Let me see…
    “The major EU player”
    And WHO told you the UK is the major EU player? LOL
    Ever heard of Germany?
    And quoting the “Real Instituto Elcano” is a joke.
    Britain will have to negotiate with the EU as a unit.
    And the only way to negotiate with the EU is to pay the 60 billion euro bill first.
    Finally it is the UK who wants more controlled borders.
    Gibraltar will not be the exception.

    • Pablo, as others have said, the article is talking about Spain as the major player. You need to read more carefully before leaping to post. Rajoy wants a bilateral deal with the UK as soon as possible. That must frustrate you I know, best to just go away and solve your own country’s appalling crime and corruption problems first.

  2. British tourists will continue to come to Spain, whether the UK is in the EU or not. Maybe there’ll be a modest increase in the costs, but – where else are they going to go? Butlins?
    As far as the ex-pats are concerned – Spaniards in the UK or Brits in Spain – neither of us have much political power and our rights won’t be of much concern to anyone.
    In our case, we shall be able to stay, no doubt subject to the same (or very similar) strictures that the Brits put on their EU residents. Work permits, visas, convertible bank accounts, minimum cash limits, voting and political loss – it’ll be fun.
    The joke is, of course, that the UK will not get as good a trade deal from the EU as when it was a member.
    As for Gibraltar? Tension and heartache, I think.

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