On the 35th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War, a former leader of the British Conservative Party, Michael Howard, has said Theresa May's government would be prepared to go to war with Spain over Gibraltar.
Mr. Howard, now Baron Howard of Lympne and a member of the United Kingdom's upper chamber, the House of Lords, was leader of the Conservative Party in opposition from 2003-2005.
Asked about the question of Gibraltar and Brexit negotiations on Sophy Ridge's politics programme on Sky News on Sunday, Lord Howard said: "I'm not concerned if we take Gibraltar first, I think there's no question whatever that our government will stand by Gibraltar".
"Thirty-five years ago this week, another woman Prime Minister sent a task force half-way across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country, and I'm absolutely certain that our current Prime Minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar."
Spain and the United Kingdom are NATO allies.
Picardo Defends Brexit Letter After Sunday Times Reports Rock Ignored
The Sunday Times reported that the government of Gibraltar had "repeatedly lobbied ministers" to have the Rock included in Theresa May's Article 50 notification letter, and suggested, quoting officials in the territory, that it had in the end been left out at the request of Madrid.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, appeared on the BBC's Andrew Marr show and defended his government's "tactical and strategic" role in the drafting of the missive.
Asked by Mr. Marr about the Sunday Times report and if he was not disappointed Gibraltar had not been mentioned, Mr. Picardo said that it had been "tangentially, by reference to the white paper, as are many other things".
"You're making an assumption that that was a decision we made with the British government and that they didn't follow through, and I'm sorry to say I don't think that's fair."
Asked to name any practical disadvantages joint-sovereignty with Spain over Gibraltar would cause to its inhabitants, Mr. Picardo did not, reframing the question as one of sovereignty and identity.
Spanish Government Pleased With New EU Gibraltar Policy
In an interview with El País on Saturday, Spain's Foreign Secretary, Alfonso Dastis, said Madrid was pleased with the EU's new Spain-friendly draft Brexit position on Gibraltar and that Spain did not intend to close the land border with Gibraltar.
"I don't believe in megaphone diplomacy", he said, but added that the Spanish position was clear: "when the United Kingdom leaves the EU, the EU member is Spain, and in the case of Gibraltar, the EU is therefore obliged to take Spain's position".
"The intention is not to close the border fence: the idea is for those Spaniards who live in the surrounding area and work in Gibraltar to continue to to the same thing. Closing the border fence is not part of my plans. I can't see how that benefits us."
Published: 1:31 pm, Apr 02 2017 (link)
UK Ready To Defend Gibraltar "All The Way", Says Defence Secretary
The British Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, told the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday that Britain was ready to defend Gibraltar "all the way".
- "We are very clear that there cannot be a change in the status and sovereignty of Gibraltar, unless the people of Gibraltar agree to it and they don't, they clearly don't. So that is not going to happen."
- "There will in the end be an agreement that fully respects the position of Gibraltar.
- Asked by Mr. Marr how far the UK was prepared to go to "look after" the Rock's interests, Sir Michael replied: "We're going to look after Gibraltar, Gibraltar is going to be protected all the way, because the sovereignty of Gibraltar cannot be changed without the people of the of Gibraltar, and they have made it very clear they don't want to live under Spanish rule"