Britain will wait for final EU guidelines on Gibraltar - May's spokesman

Tourists stand at a terrace on the top of the Rock in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will wait until the end of the month to find out what guidelines the other members of the European Union have agreed regarding issues such as Gibraltar, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Monday.

The future of Gibraltar has become the first dispute of the exit talks since May filed the formal divorce papers, with the EU draft joint position saying any agreement on the British outpost on Spain’s southern tip had be agreed between Spain and Britain.

“These are draft guidelines that were issued ... We will wait and see what is agreed by the 27 (EU countries), ” the spokesman told reporters.

Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis held a “friendly and constructive” meeting with Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis in Madrid on Monday as part of a pre-arranged visit, the spokesman added, during which he raised the issue of Gibraltar.

On Sunday a former leader of May’s Conservative party, Michael Howard, said she would be prepared to go to war to defend the territory, as then prime minister Margaret Thatcher did with Argentina over the Falkland Islands 35 years ago.

May’s spokesman said what Howard “was trying to establish was the resolve that we will have to protect the rights of Gibraltar and its sovereignty”.

Asked if that would include ultimately sending a naval taskforce to protect Gibraltar as Britain did to the Falklands, he said: “That isn’t going to happen.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison