EU, UK agree to 'ambitious' post-Brexit ties

SPAIN has doubled down on its threat to vote down the Brexit withdrawal agreement if there are no further assurances on Gibraltar

Britain was also seeking frictionless trade in goods after Brexit, which the European Union does not allow without also following its rules on the free movement of people and services.

Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo on Monday issued a statement regretting the Spanish position.

Angela Merkel has threatened to pull out of a Brussels summit to approve a Brexit deal unless an agreement is ready in time for the meeting.

From her side, May must also decide on a potential extension of a transition period after Brexit, which the bloc said could last until the end of 2022 at the latest.

The comments come after Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, said he would reject the draft Brexit withdrawal deal without a clarification of the text on future talks on the status of Gibraltar.

The Prime Minister said the draft declaration was between the United Kingdom and officials in Brussels, adding: "It is now up to the EU member states to examine this agreement in the days leading up to the special EU Council meeting on Sunday".

Madrid has a long-standing claim on Gibraltar, which was ceded to the British crown in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.

On Wednesday night, May spoke to Sanchez and "there had been good engagement between the United Kingdom, the Government of Spain and the Government of Gibraltar", May's office said, adding that the United Kingdom and Gibraltar "looked forward to these discussions continuing".

Mr Tusk said in a tweet: "I have just sent to EU27 a draft Political Declaration on the Future Relationship between European Union and UK".

But the Protestant, pro-U.K. party opposes the Brexit deal's plans for keeping the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland open after Brexit.

Neither side has much wiggle room left to polish the text, but Mrs May must show that she has left nothing on the table if she is to convince British members of parliament to ratify the deal in the coming weeks.

Sunday's summit is meant to conclude almost two years of complex and often acrimonious negotiations on how Britain and the European Union will function after their March 29 divorce.

"The Brexiteers may lose their Brexit", she added.

ARLENE Foster has insisted her party's confidence and supply deal with the Tories is not dead.

Donald Tusk, the council's president, tweeted that a draft copy of the declaration had been sent to the remaining 27 European Union member states.

He said the draft declaration still requires "the endorsement of the leaders". As things stand, British banks would only be granted access to the European market if the UK's rules and regulations remain closely aligned, another example of the EU preventing Britain from forging its own destiny after Brexit.

EU leaders are due to ratify the draft divorce deal at a European Council meeting on Sunday but Spain said this week that it can not support the agreement unless it is given a clear veto on Gibraltar's inclusion within the negotiations on the future relationship.

Spain is demanding a guarantee that Gibraltar would only be covered by a future trade deal if Madrid gives its consent.

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