Spain could demand joint sovereignty of Gibraltar in the event of Britain deciding to leave the EU, according to a Spanish minister.

The surprise move to revive a shelved 2002 proposal that would impact on the island’s 30,000 inhabitants, was outlined by Spain’s acting foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo in a newspaper interview.

The concept of both Britain and Spain laying claim to Gibraltar, an island off the southern tip of Spain, was floated 14 years ago and islanders voted on whether they would approve of this.

However, the results showed that the population overwhelming wanted to stay in the sovereignty of the UK.

But with Britain holding a vote on whether it should remain in the European Union in June, Spain believes Gibraltar could still stay a part of the bloc.

Mr Garcia Margallo told the publication La Razon: ‘If they wish to remain part of the EU it is relatively simple, do what we were about to do in 2002.

‘That is establish sovereignty between Spain and the UK for a transitional period, reserving its peculiar status.

The hardliner added that the implementation of the plan, previously rejected by the Spanish government, would give Gibraltarians ‘the best of all possible worlds: with two flags and access to the European Union.’

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