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Theresa May 'would go to war' to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 02/04/2017 By Laura Hughes, Political Correspondent

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Theresa May would go to war to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar just as Margaret Thatcher did with the Falklands, a former Tory leader has suggested. 

Lord Howard said the British Government will stand by Gibraltar during Brexit talks amid claims of an EU “land grab” for the territory. 

It came as Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary,  pledged to "protect" Gibraltar "all the way". 

Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Fallon said: "The people of Gibraltar have made it clear that they don't want to live under the sovereignty of Spain. Gibraltar is going to be protected all the way." 

Lord Howard told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: "There is no question whatever that our Government will stand by Gibraltar.

"35 years ago this week another woman Prime Minister sent a task force half way across the World to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country.

"I am absolutely certain our current Prime Minister will show the same resolve."

A European Council document on Friday suggested that Spain will be given an effective veto on whether the B rexit deal applies to Gibraltar.

Theresa May 'would go to war' to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar The draft guidelines drawn up by EU leaders state that the Brexit deal will not apply to Gibraltar without an "agreement between the kingdom of Spain and the UK". The clause has taken British officials by surprise.

British soldiers advancing across East Falkland island for the final attack on Port Stanley during the Falklands War, June 1982Credit: Hulton Archive

One told The Telegraph it is "absolutely unacceptable" and gives Spain too much power over the future of Gibraltar.

"The Rock", a British Overseas Territory since 1713 with 30,000 residents, remains a major source of diplomatic tensions.

Gibraltar's chief minister has warned the territory should not be used by Spain as a bargaining chip for Britain’s Brexit negotiations.

Fabian Picardo told the BBC this morning  that sharing sovereignty with Spain would be "absolutely awful" and  comparable to "living in somebody else’s land."

He said he was "working closely with the British Government" and he would support the British Prime Minister in the upcoming negotiations to get the best deal.

"I am sure the UK will be batting for Gibraltar," he said. "Gibraltar is not on the table as a chip".

Last night Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that the UK’s support for Gibraltar will remain “implacable and rock-like”. 

He said: “I wanted to reiterate that the UK remains implacable and rock-like in our support for Gibraltar. 

“As the Prime Minister herself said earlier this week, we are clear that Gibraltar is covered by our exit negotiations, and we have committed to involving Gibraltar fully in the work that we are doing.”

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