BRITAIN needs to beef up its fleet of warships in Gibraltar amid fears Spanish forces could INVADE the island, a defence chief has warned.
By Joshua Nevett / Published 3rd August 2016
It has been claimed the UK must be prepared to defend the overseas territory after warnings Spain could “pounce on us” after the historic vote to leave the EU.
The call comes after claims by Madrid that Brexit could lead to power sharing of the island, known as the “Rock”.
And just days after fuming MPs warned Spain it will spark a “serious incident” in Gibraltar if it continues with its hundreds of unlawful incursions into British waters.
Former Ministry of Defence advisor and director Luke Coffey said the government must take steps to “safeguard” the Mediterranean colony ahead of crunch Brexit talks with the EU.
In an article on the ConservativeHome website, he urged the MoD to send “an important message” to Gibraltans by “increasing the Royal Navy’s visible presence”.
“I hope the formula on co-sovereignty – the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before.”
Jose Manual Garcia-Margallo
There were fears that Spain could snatch the British outpost “the very next day” ahead of the vote.
But the comments, made by the country’s foreign minister Jose Manual Garcia-Margallo, were condemned in the UK, with UKIP blasting them “territorial threats”.
But following the vote, Garcia-Margallo has since warned that Brexit was “a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities”.
He added: “I hope the formula on co-sovereignty – the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before.”
LANDGRAB: Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said he could see a Spanish flag on the Rock
Residents of the island, which lies at the end of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain, voted overwhelmingly to remain, with 96% choosing to stay.
Following the shock result, Europe minister David Lidington said there will be no talks with Spain over Gibraltar’s sovereignty.
Speaking to the people of Gibraltar, David Lidington said: “The United Kingdoms will continue to stand by Gibraltar.
“We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against your wishes.”