Four British Members of Parliament have been in the Falkland Islands over the past week, whilst the House of Commons is in recess. The cross-party group includes two Labour and two Conservative MPs, with an FIG Representative from London accompanying them.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday in Stanley, the four MPs all reiterated the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination and to confirm that the UK will continue to support the Falklands and its people. Despite the recent calls for “dialogue” with Argentina over the Falklands by some members of Parliament, most notably Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the visiting MPs confirmed that the “vast majority” are squarely behind the Falklands and their wish to remain British.
Chris Matheson, Labour MP for Chester, stated that there is “no Falklands question” and the Labour Party shares the view that the Falkland Islands have the right to determine their own future. The group of MPs, which also included Conservative MPs David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) and Guy Opperman (Hexham), and Labour MP Peter Dowd (Bootle), went on to add that the Falklands’ right to determine their own future is enshrined in the doctrine of the United Nations and is, therefore, not an individual MPs choice.
The group of MPs were invited to visit by the Falkland Islands Government and have been accompanied throughout their trip by FIG Representative Sukey Cameron from the FIG London Office. FIG has been hosting MP visits for many years, with the aim to give MPs a greater insight into the Islands and to strengthen the relationship between the Falklands and the UK Government. With better understandings of the challenges faced in the Falklands, through visits like this, MPs can then be better advocates in the UK, the group added.
The group went on to declare that MPs are generally well briefed on the Falklands, a testament to work done by the FIG Office in London and local MLAs, but visits allow MPs to get a much better grounding on all issues relating to the Falklands. Mr Opperman added that MPs can also “learn lessons” from FIG to take back home to their own constituencies. All the MPs concluded yesterday’s press conference by emphasising the great welcome they had received in the Falklands and that they had all felt very much at home throughout their stay.