A British MEP has today been stripped of responsibility for processing a technical piece of no deal Brexit visa legislation that has been hijacked by the Spanish Government pushing their claims on Gibraltar. UK Conservative delegation leader and MEP for Gibraltar Ashley Fox has condemned the decision as further unnecessary posturing from Spain and their MEPs. The draft laws form part of the EU’s no deal Brexit preparations, and the European Commission has proposed a tweak to existing visa legislation to allow British travellers to benefit from visa travel. However, on the insistence of the Spanish Government, EU Member States added a footnote in the legislation referring to Gibraltar as a ‘Colony of the British Crown’.

British Labour MEP Claude Moraes, as chair of the committee processing the legislation, was responsible for steering the legislation through parliament and united MEPs in rejecting the change during a vote last month.

However, following pressure from Spanish MEPs who have been accused of using the Gibraltar issue to win support in forthcoming national elections, the President of the Parliament, Antonio Tajani, took the unprecedented step of intervening in the matter. He spearheaded the meeting of parliament’s political factions that saw the largest two groups take the decision to strip Moraes of his responsibility for the legislation.

Speaking after the decision, Fox said:

“Gibraltar is part of the British family, and part of it by choice. What should have been a technical measure has been jeopardised by Spain’s incessant and baseless posturing.

“Parliament’s President has shown real weakness in allowing himself to be brow beaten by Spanish MEPs whose parties are in full campaign mode with elections coming. He should know better and stay out of it.”

The draft laws, with the footnote on Gibraltar, will now be voted again by the whole parliament before entering into law, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.