United Kingdom objects to description of Gibraltar as 'British colony' in European Union law

An EU document that calls Gibraltar as a "colony" has sparked anger in Britain as the Brexit crisis gains momentum ahead of the looming deadline on March 29.

The row was ignited after the European Council referred to the rock as an area occupied by Britain in a document setting out plans for Brits to have visa-free travel to the EU after Brexit.

'Gibraltar is not a colony and it is completely inappropriate to describe in this way.

"Gibraltar is a full part of the United Kingdom family".

British leaders have raised the possibility of postponing the U.K.'s exit date from the European Union, due to disagreement over terms of the divorce, now set to take place on March 29. The announcement appears to lay waste to a series of sensational newspaper reports in recent months that alleged the British government was preparing to warn holidaymakers not to book European trips in case of a so-called hard Brexit - something the government denied - and that Brits would have to pay €7 to obtain a visitor's visa.

Parallel talks among European Union states on letting Britons visit without visas following a no-deal Brexit were delayed last week, diplomatic sources said, after Spain raised objections over Gibraltar, a British territory to which Madrid lays claim.

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The text of the footnote reads: "Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown".

The wording of the decision described the British Overseas Territory as a "colony of the British crown" whose sovereignty is disputed by Spain. Those, among other things, limit the weight given to the preferences of people living in a territory; Gibraltarians favor remaining British, despite having voted overwhelming against Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

The text agreed by the 27 governments will be discussed by the European Parliament and the EU executive in order to finalise a regulation giving Britons visa-free access.

In a 2002 referendum on whether Britain and Spain should share sovereignty over Gibraltar, 99 percent of voters said no, similar to the outcome of a referendum in 1967.

Spanish sources said this week that Madrid would insist on excluding Gibraltar from all agreements between Britain and the European Union once Britain has left.

"It provides flexibility for government should there be divergence of regulations to insist that manufacturers were committing to that United Kingdom regulatory practice in future", he said.

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