UK says “no options should be ruled out” in defending Gibraltar territorial waters
The British Government said on Thursday that “no options should be ruled out” in defending the British sovereignty of Gibraltar’s territorial waters, reports the Gibraltar Chronicle.
The position was outlined in a statement issued by The Convent following a meeting between the Governor, Sir Adrian Johns, and Britain’s Minister for Europe, David Lidington.
In another development, Foreign Secretary William Hague will lay a written statement to the House of Commons on the issue of Gibraltar waters next Monday.
The reactions follow the Spanish Government’s decision last week to upgrade its controversial EU-approved nature site in Gibraltar waters to the status of Special Area of Conservation, SAC.
In doing so, the government in Madrid also approved domestic legislation that seeks to regulate activities in Gibraltar waters.
Britain is adamant that the waters around Gibraltar are British and that Spain has no jurisdiction in them. The issue was at the top of the agenda of current Gibraltar affairs discussed during an in-depth meeting on Tuesday between Sir Adrian and Mr Lidington.
“The Governor said that Gibraltar welcomed Her Majesty’s Government’s robust response to Spain’s declaration of the SAC,” said The Convent in a statement.
“[Sir Adrian and Mr Lidington] agreed the importance of the Royal Navy’s presence and profile in British Gibraltar territorial waters in upholding British sovereignty and in support of the exercise of jurisdiction by the Royal Gibraltar Police and agreed that no options should be ruled out in terms of the UK’s response.”
The statement from The Convent did not expand on what options were under consideration but they will likely focus primarily on political, diplomatic and legal initiatives.
However Britain could also bolster its naval presence in Gibraltar waters, as was hinted at earlier this week in the House of Lords by Lord Astor of Hever, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence.
“We keep the Royal Navy’s posture in Gibraltar under close review,” Lord Astor said in response to a parliamentary question.