British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon says the United Kingdom will “look after” Gibraltar in the post-Brexit era.
"We're going to look after Gibraltar," said the 64-year-old during an interview with the state-funded BBC in London on Sunday.
Fallon’s remarks came after British and Spanish officials stepped up their rhetoric in regard to the strategically important rocky outpost on Spain's southern tip.
"Gibraltar is going to be protected all the way because the sovereignty of Gibraltar cannot be changed without the agreement of the people of Gibraltar and they've made it very clear they do not want to live under Spanish rule and it's interesting in the draft guidelines from the EU that Spain is not saying that the whole thing is subject to the transfer of sovereignty," stated the British defense secretary.
Gibraltarians rejected shared sovereignty with Spain by 99 percent to 1 percent during a referendum in 2002.
With a population of around 30,000, the British territory is located at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, and has an area of 6.7 square kilometers (2.6 square miles).
Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713 as part of the Treaty of Utrecht. But Spain over the past decades has made it clear that it wants the enclave back.
Madrid’s resolve has apparently become stronger after Britons’ decision to quit the European Union.
Spain also appears to be throwing its support behind Scotland’s membership at the EU following Brexit.