A senior UK politician has claimed that Britain ruined Madrid’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games deliberately after a row over Gibraltar.
MEP Sir Graham Watson has described how PM David Cameron threatened Spain’s Mariano Rajoy that he would derail the Madrid bid last summer amid escalating diplomatic tensions.
The row was over controls imposed by Spain at its border with the British Overseas Territory.
Cameron reportedly threatened to block Madrid’s bid for Olympics if Spain didn’t resolve the border queue issues.
Ahead of today’s EU elections Sir Graham said: “I am told Mr Cameron actually said: ‘if you carry on with these border queues we will make sure you don’t get the Olympic Games’ to the Spanish Prime Minister.
“And I believe that is what happened.” he added.
Sir Graham was speaking at a televised debate in Gibraltar.
Madrid managed to reach the final three cities, competing against Tokyo and Istanbul.
However, Spain lost out at the September vote, which came following a summer of renewed tensions over Gibraltar.
President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, Sir Graham said that as well as contacting Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, to lodge a formal complaint at Spain’s actions at the border, Cameron also sought other ways to pressurise Spain.
Sir Graham said: “He also drew up a list of things we could do to say to Spain ‘this is not right’ and as a result Madrid will not host the Olympic Games, it will go to Tokyo as a result of UK action.”
A British Government spokesperson played down the claims:
“Sir Graham Watson was speaking as an MEP, not as a member of Her Majesty’s Government.
“As has always been the practice, the UK government did not favour any of the three finalists over others, and there was absolutely no UK attempt to influence any of the bids.”