SPAIN must be ‘realistic’ about its joint sovereignty bid for Gibraltar, says foreign minister Alfonso Dastis.

In his first print interview since succeeding Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo in November, Dastis, 61, said Madrid’s ‘offer’ of joint sovereignty was still on the table.

'NO DIFFERENCE': Dastis outlines Spain's stance on Gibraltar
‘NO DIFFERENCE’: Dastis outlines Spain’s stance on Gibraltar after Margallo

But he was adamant if Gibraltarians didn’t want to accept Spain’s terms, the Rock would have to ‘go through us’ to retain EU access.

Dastis said: “If the UK does not want to negotiate, it will be hard to move forward with this, and one of the elements that London is considering, before deciding whether to negotiate, is the opinion of Gibraltarians.

“We deeply believe that this would be a beneficial choice for them.”

He added: “If Gibraltarians remain sceptical and do not wish to explore that avenue, I would say, well that’s their business.

“They have a right to get left out of the EU, if that’s what they want. But if Gibraltar wants a relationship with the EU, it will have to go through us.

“And that will require a bilateral agreement between Spain and the UK.”

Dastis, a former diplomat, took the controversial Margallo’s place soon after Mariano Rajoy formed a new government.

He said he had ‘the greatest respect’ for Margallo, but was ‘more of a professional than a politician’.

Dastis said: “The emphasis may change, but deep down there will not be any great differences.”