British media is reporting that Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he will visit the Falkland Islands to assert the UK’s control of them after a “run-in” with the Argentine government.
Cleverly told an audience at a Conservative Party Conference drinks reception in Manchester on Sunday night that he would “make absolutely clear” that the UK supported the Islands’ right to self-determination.
The UK government has been embroiled in a fresh dispute with Argentina since March, when Buenos Aires pulled out of a co-operation agreement in several fields with Britain and called for talks between the two countries over the Falklands.
The row has also inflamed tensions between the UK and European Union, which referred to them in July as “Islas Malvinas” – their Argentine name – in a move Mr Cleverly said would “increase tensions in the region”.
On Sunday night, the Foreign Secretary said that in response to a “run-in with the Argentine Government at the moment,” he would visit the islands to make the UK’s position clear.
“Some of you may have noticed that because they have an election coming, they are trying to do a bit of flexing of their muscle when it comes to the people of the Falklands,” he said.
“Now, I believe in the right of people having self-determination and the people of the Falklands have made their position clear and we need to return a Conservative government to make sure they and others around the world are protected.
“And just to hammer home that point, I am going to take the opportunity to visit the Falklands because I think it is my job to make it absolutely clear [that] it is only a Conservative government that can be trusted to look after the best interests of this country and those others around the world who rely on British good governance including, of course, the wonderful, brave people of Ukraine who are currently defending themselves against Russian aggression.”
Mr Cleverly would be the first British cabinet minister to visit the archipelago since 2016, when then-defense secretary Michael Fallon flew there to assert the “right of the islanders to determine their own future”.
Last year, Princess Anne visited to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War.
The row over the Falklands has escalated in recent months ahead of an election in Argentina on October 22.
In March, the country broke off a cooperation agreement with the UK and said that relations between the two nations would be strained as long as Britain refused to discuss its sovereignty over the Islands.