The European Union removed the last major obstacle to sealing an agreement on Brexit after Spain said it had reached a deal Saturday with Britain over Gibraltar on the eve of a summit where EU leaders will sign off on the divorce papers.
Spain to back Brexit deal after UK agrees to Gibraltar terms

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who held preparatory talks with EU leaders Saturday evening, will then have the momentous task of selling the terms of the deal to a recalcitrant British Parliament and a nation still fundamentally split over whether the U.K. should leave the EU on March 29 and under what conditions.

May vowed to campaign “with my heart and soul” to win Parliament’s backing for the deal.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who had threatened to oppose the deal, announced Saturday that Madrid would support the divorce agreement after the U.K. and the EU underscored Spain’s say in the future of the disputed British territory of Gibraltar, which lies at the southern tip of the Mediterranean nation.

Spain wants the future of the tiny territory, which was ceded to Britain in 1713 but is still claimed by Spain, to be a bilateral issue between Madrid and London, not between Britain and the EU.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk assured Sanchez that Spain’s “prior agreement” would be needed on matters concerning Gibraltar.

Spain claimed a major diplomatic victory.

“Europe and the United Kingdom have accepted the conditions imposed by Spain,” Sanchez said. “Therefore, as a consequence of this, Spain will lift its veto and tomorrow will vote in favor of Brexit.”

But Britain said the statement merely clarified the existing state of affairs. May said Britain had conceded nothing on the sovereignty of Gibraltar.

“I will always stand by Gibraltar,” May said. “The U.K. position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar has not changed and will not change.”

The move should allow EU leaders speedily to sign off on the Brexit agreement at a special summit Sunday morning.

May hopes to leave EU headquarters on Sunday with a legally binding agreement on the withdrawal terms for Britain’s departure from the EU on March 29, as well as an ambitious but vague political declaration on future relations between the two sides.

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