Britain says only Gibraltar, UK people can decide future

Britain says only Gibraltar, UK people can decide future

LONDON — Spain’s foreign minister on Monday accused Britain of losing its composure over Gibraltar, after a leading Conservative politician in the U.K. compared uncertainty over the enclave’s status after Brexit to the 1982 Falklands War.

Michael Howard, a former Conservative leader, said Sunday that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had sent British warships to the South Atlantic in 1982 “to protect another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country.”

“And I’m absolutely clear that our current woman prime minister will show the same resolve in relation to Gibraltar as her predecessor did,” Howard told the BBC.

The comments were condemned by opposition politicians in Britain, and drew a bemused reaction in Madrid.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said “the Spanish government is a little surprised, actually, by the tone that has been generated in Britain, a country traditionally known for its composure.”

He told journalists in Madrid that on the question of Europe and the issue of Gibraltar, “Britain’s traditional calmness is conspicuous by its absence.”

Spain has a longstanding territorial claim on Gibraltar, an enclave of 32,000 people on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula that was ceded to Britain in 1713.

Draft negotiating guidelines drawn up by the EU said no future agreement after Brexit between Britain and the bloc would apply to Gibraltar unless both the U.K. and Spain agreed. That was interpreted by some in Britain as giving Madrid a veto over the territory’s future relationship with the trading bloc.

The EU’s stance could force a dialogue in which Madrid might have the upper hand, although the Spanish government has said that it will ensure an open border for European workers who are key to both Gibraltar and the neighbouring area in southern Spain. About 96 per cent of Gibraltar residents voted to remain in the EU last year.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the status of Gibraltar can only be changed by the territory’s people and by U.K. citizens.

Johnson said Gibraltar’s sovereignty “is not going to change and cannot conceivably change without the express support and consent of the people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.”

He spoke in Luxembourg where EU foreign ministers are meeting. Britain’s departure from the European Union, likely in 2019, is not on the meeting’s agenda.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders called for calm, saying that the Brexit divorce is already difficult enough.

“Let’s be cool and carry on, and not use too harsh language, I would say. Let’s just negotiate. I think that’s the most important,” he said.

___

Cook reported from Brussels. Aritz Parra and Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this story.

Jill Lawless And Lorne Cook, The Associated Press

Just Posted

New 84-unit seniors housing in Saanich constructed to Built Green standards

Mount Doug Manor an example of Built Green on a big scale

UPDATED: Bail conditions released for Esquimalt man facing multiple sexual assault charges

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Victoria police seize over one kilo of fentanyl, guns and cars

Andrew Ritch is facing charges of drug trafficking and firearm offences

UPDATE: Missing Langford teen found safe

The 13-year-old Langford boy reported missing Wednesday has been found

Tour de Victoria rolls through the region Saturday

Expect traffic delays across Greater Victoria on Aug. 18

Kim XO is Black Press Media’s fashionista

Starting Sept. 7, stylist Kim XO will host Fashion Fridays on the Life channel on Black Press Meida

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Saanich teen takes her karate skills onto the world stage

National champion Olivia Brodie will compete at the 2018 Junior Pan-American Karate Championships

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

Most Read