No reason to lose cool over Gibraltar - Spain's foreign minister

The armed ship sailed into British waters just hours after Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told Britain to "calm down" after form Tory Leader Lord Michael Howard said he believed the prime minister would "go to war" over the Rock.

She was unable to say if Gibraltar would make a formal protest to Spain over the incident.

Spain, which has persistently claimed sovereignty over Gibraltar, says the EU's clause is reasonable.

Understanding its position in Europe, Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly (96%) in support of staying within the European Union in the Brexit referendum. Britain provides some services, such as security, to the territory.

Gibraltar's status after the UK withdrawal from the European Union is one of the pressing issues in Brexit talks, with the bloc suggesting that a separate agreement between London and Madrid would be required for any EU-UK deal provisions on Gibraltar.

Madrid has urged the United Kingdom to calm down over Gibraltar, after former Conservative leader Lord Howard suggested Theresa May would defend the territory as Margaret Thatcher did the Falklands.

"Our position on Gibraltar and the rights of the people of Gibraltar hasn't changed and we are very clear that we will continue to offer them full support".

He told the MailOnline: 'Spanish Patrol Boat P77 (Infanta Christina) this afternoon made an incursion into Gibraltar territorial waters and was challenged by the Royal Navy's HMS Scimitar.

Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo essentially called EU Council President Donald Tusk "a cuck" in an interview with Reuters.

But Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo reacted angrily and called for the European Union to remove the reference to his 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". European diplomats have made it clear since the row erupted that the EU nations will back their fellow member state Spain in any dispute with the United Kingdom as it leaves the club.

Speaking to talkRADIO, she said: "Spain is actually a good friend of ours on every issue except for Gibraltar, and a very large amount of people live in Spain".

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has reaffirmed the Government's support for Gibraltar, insisting there would be no change to its sovereignty as a result of the Brexit negotiations.

The mountainous outcrop on the southern tip of Spain known as "The Rock" was ceded to Britain by Madrid 300 years ago and has been an occasional source of tension ever since.

Downing Street today confirmed it would not be sending a military taskforce to Gibraltar amid suggestions of war with Spain over the British territory.

"I think the position of the [UK] government is very, very clear, and that is the sovereignty of Gibraltar is unchanged and it's not going to change, and it can not conceivably change without the express support and consent of the people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom", he said.

Brussels suggested last week that it was prepared to give Spain such a veto, angering and upsetting people in Gibraltar.

  • Leroy Wright