The UK and the EU launched into a new war of words over the Rock today as Gibraltar was branded a 'colony' in draft laws to give visa-free travel to Britons after Brexit.
Downing Street swiftly moved to slap down the jibe which is the latest move by Spain to take advantage of Brexit to stake its claim on the Rock.
Unlike at other moments in the Brexit negotiation Britain has no power to veto or even disagree because it is a decision made by the remaining 27 EU states. Britain's EU ambassador Sir Tim Barrow did attend today's meeting and raised a protest.
It means the incendiary language is likely to stay in the final version of the rules granting visa-free to Britons after Brexit. It will not prevent Gibraltar's citizens taking advantage of the waiver and does not change their legal status in the EU.
Gibraltar sits in an strategically crucial position on the western gateway to the Med and has been British for more than 300 years.
Spain almost blocked the conclusion of the deal in November and repeatedly raised the issue during two years of talks.
In April 2017 there were even claims Mrs May would go to war to defend the Rock in the same way as Margaret Thatcher fought for the Falklands.
The EU caused fury today as it branded Gibraltar a 'colony' of the UK in draft laws to give visa-free travel to Britons after Brexit
A spokesman for Theresa May slapped down the 'completely inappropriate' language today, insisting 'Gibraltar is not a colony'
The new row started when the EU rules on visa free travel included a footnote which said: 'Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown'
The new row started when the EU rules on visa free travel included a footnote which said: 'Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown. There is a controversy between Spain and the United Kingdom concerning the sovereignty over Gibraltar, a territory for which a solution has to be reached in light of the relevant resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly of the United Nations.'
Mrs May swiftly hit back when the text of the document emerged this morning.
A No 10 spokesman said: 'The EU's provisions for visa-free travel into and out of the Schengen area cover Gibraltar, and mean that in any scenario, British Nationals from Gibraltar will be able to travel for short stays in and out of Spain and other countries in the Schengen area.
'Gibraltar is not a colony and it is completely inappropriate to describe in this way.
'Gibraltar is a full part of