Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2019

EU sacks British MEP blocking Spanish bid to call Gibraltar a ‘colony’ | UK | News

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The Labour politician, who has been an MEP for 20 years, was systemically removed from his senior role by the European Parliament’s most senior figures, including its president Antonio Tajani. Mr Moraes was at the centre of a Spanish attempt to seize control of Gibraltar, the British overseas territory that Madrid has disputed ownership of since 1713. The Labour MEP refused to allow Spain to list the Rock as a “British colony” in key EU legislation that would include British travellers on the bloc’s visa-free list in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Moraes, whose role as LIBE chairman oversaw the legislation, insisted Spain made its move to sack him after member states started to round on Madrid’s plot to snatch back Gibraltar.

Mr Moraes said: “I’m proud that I didn’t stand down. I noticed member states were beginning to think Spain was wrong, that’s why Madrid wanted to strike – they knew it was happening!”

The Labour MEP was pivotal in blocking a footnote that described Gibraltar as a “colony of the British crown” in the EU’s no deal legislation. A collapse of the policy could’ve resulted in Britons being excluded from the EU’s visa-free travel list.

Mr Tajani and Spanish MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons, of the European People’s Party, were at the centre of the plot to overthrow Mr Moraes.

Last week, the Labour MEP personally rebuked the European Parliament president’s attempt to intervene in the diplomatic row.

But today, the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents, made up of the bloc’s most senior MEPs, decided to sack him after a crunch vote.

Mr Moraes added: “I was a real major problem. I refused to give up and I refused to come off the file, which they found a real surprise.

“They went for the nuclear option.”

Spain have made numerous attempts to snatch back control of Gibraltar throughout the Brexit process, much to the annoyance of their remaining EU colleagues.

Mr Moraes’ sacking was branded “scandalous” by Czech MEP Petr Jezek, another Parliament representative on the debates with the European Commission and Council over the no deal plans.

Mr Jezek said: “I disassociate myself with this process and consider is scandalous that such a decision has been taken purely on the basis of the nationality and therefore the assumed bias of the rapporteur.

“To be clear, the rapport represented entirely fairly the European Parliament’s position on this file. He was willing to move towards the Council position in a number of areas, including on the question of how Gibraltarian citizens would be treated under the regulation.

“By forcing the removal of its rapporteur, who was faithfully representing the Parliament’s position, the European Parliament has shot itself in the foot.”



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