03:21 GMT +315 November 2018
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    Pedestrians cross the tarmac at Gibraltar International Airport in front of the Rock near the border with Spain in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, June 24, 2016, after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU referendum.

    Rocky Road: UK, EU Lock Horns on Fate of Gibraltar Under Brexit

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    Responding to parliamentary concerns that Britain is willing to abandon Gibraltar in a bid to secure an EU-UK trade agreement, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to fight for a deal that would be best for Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.

    London wants to make sure that Gibraltar is included in any transition deal with the EU when the United Kingdom leaves the 27-nation bloc.

    The EU has drawn fire from Britain over its insistence that in order to have the strategic rock included in a transition agreement Britain needs to discuss the issue directly with Spain and a document, due to be published on Wednesday, is expected to confirm Brussels' stance on the issue, according to The Guardian.

    Brussel’s position reflects its support for Madrid’s centuries-old territorial dispute with London over the status of Gibraltar and its firm belief that Gibraltar should not be covered by any future trade deal with Britain without any prior agreement with Spain.

    “If Britain’s overseas territories aren’t included in the transition guidelines it would be a total contradiction in the EU’s own position,” a source in the British government told The Guardian.

    He also lashed out against what he described as the EU’s inconsistent and contradictory position on the sticky issue of Gibraltar which has long been a bone of contention between Britain and Spain.

    During last week’s EU summit in Brussels, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted that the status of Gibraltar be part of any UK-EU deal, including on the transition period.

    In a sign of their strong adherence to the EU, Gibraltarians overwhelmingly voted to stay in the UK during last year’s Brexit referendum, with only 4 percent saying they wanted to leave the bloc.

    Last week, the EU leaders agreed “to move on to the second phase" in Brexit talks after “sufficient progress” had been made on the first phase of the talks to allow negotiations to start on a transition deal and a final trade agreement.

    READ MORE: Gibraltar's Dilemma: What Awaits British Overseas Territory After Brexit?

    Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union started on June 19, and are due to be completed by the end of March 2019.

    Related:

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    Rock of Discord, or Gibraltar's Future Amid Brexit Changes
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    transition deal, Gibraltar talks, dispute, EU, Mariano Rajoy, Theresa May, Europe
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