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UK Armed Forces minister shows the flag in Gibraltar waters

Saturday, December 14th 2013 - 06:34 UTC
Full article 27 comments
Minister Francois (R) with Chief minister Fabian Picardo Minister Francois (R) with Chief minister Fabian Picardo

UK Minister for the Armed Forces said that a very, very long and continued presence in Gibraltar, with no defense cuts for the foreseeable future and full support of sovereignty were the key ingredients in the UK message he brought to the Rock. Before meeting Gibraltar authorities the minister took a tour of British Gibraltar waters with the Royal Navy.

 “We have a history of defending our sovereignty and I don’t believe that that is a history that we should forget, nor, indeed, should anybody else” said Minister Mark Francois in an interview with the Gibraltar Chronicle.

The minister met with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and his deputy Dr Joseph Garcia at No 6 following a tour of the Bay of Gibraltar and British Gibraltar waters with the Royal Navy’s Gibraltar Squadron.

Picardo welcomed the visit and said that Minister Francois had been very clear on the MoD’s commitment for the future of the base in Gibraltar. This was something the Government has never doubted but it was “fantastic” to hear it directly from the minister in Gibraltar, he told reporters.

Francois, who also met with members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, said of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron “I have been very impressed by what they do”.

“Our links are as close as ever they were and we have been talking about the MoD’s long-term interest to Gibraltar and its people. There are marvelous facilities here and we have been talking about how we can continue to use those facilities to our mutual benefit for very many years,” he said making clear that once the current restructure and cuts are seen through no further changes are envisaged.

“Once we have gone through project Euston I don’t see the base getting any small after that. I believe that it is a key part of our international capability, it provides us with reach. We are very pleased with the facilities that we have. The plans that are in place will be carried through, but I don’t see any further reductions after that, not for foreseeable future. I hope we can provide a reassurance on that.”

“We are here for the long-term. We greatly value everything that Gibraltar contributes to the defense of the United Kingdom and the defense of the West more generally. We are proud to be here and we intend to be here for a very, very long while,” said Francois.

In response to questions the minister made clear that he felt the UK presence in Gibraltar is adequate. Referring to a phrase from his army days that “time spent on reconnaissance is rarely wasted” he said that, having seen the facility himself and looking at the port visits it should be noted that 14 RN surface units had visited in 2013 and there had been six visits of nuclear submarines.

“HMS Bulwark that delivered the Governor here just a few days ago is one of the largest ships in the fleet. So, I believe we have a very regular progress of visits coming in Gibraltar. The Royal Navy have been here for years and they will be here for years” Francois said adding that he had been looking at the point where the Queen Elizabeth carriers will be berthed “when they visit Gibraltar in a few years’ time.”

“It will be lovely to see 65,000 tons of aircraft carrier within the harbors of Gibraltar, as a number of our aircraft carriers have been there down the years”.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • Clyde15

    I think that makes the position clear. Spain take note !

    Dec 14th, 2013 - 10:33 am 0
  • Britworker

    My guess is that Spain will close the border again before they decided to take Gibraltar militarily. There is no way the EU are going to force 30,000.00 people to became Spanish against their will either.
    The Spanish government are just going to enter a long phase of making life as difficult as possible for them until they are ousted and a new government is in place. I think the whole thing is not winnable for the Spanish, it is literally impossible to take Gibraltar against their will in a modern Europe.

    Europe needs countries that pay more than they take and cause as little trouble as possible. Spain causes trouble, is not paying its way and needs handouts. I'm not sure how much more patience they can expect from the bill payers.

    Dec 14th, 2013 - 11:15 am 0
  • Conqueror

    @2 Keep trying to tell them. Buy hi-speed catamaran ferries and small civil aircraft. Sack all Spaniards working in Gibraltar. Government-owned and operated air and ferry routes to France and Morocco. CLOSE the border from Gibraltar's side. Make it impossible to cross the border by air, land and sea unless authorised. Constant armed patrols. Automatic cannon are good. The list of “laws” Spain breaks is considerable. Breaches of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights. Invasion of British territory. Firearms offences in British territory and against British Gibraltar nationals. Illegal “executive” actions in British territory. Gibraltar needs to extend its territorial limits to the legal maximum. And enforce them. Step ONE: Arrest illegal vessels and occupants. Permanent confiscation of arrested vessels. Five years gaol for individuals. Step TWO: Open fire with warning shots. Step THREE: Final warning. Leave NOW or be sunk!

    Dec 14th, 2013 - 12:28 pm 0
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