UK Politics

Gibraltar crisis: Royal Navy escorts Spanish vessel from British waters

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RELATIONS over Gibraltar erupted on Friday after the Royal Navy was forced to re-route a Spanish vessel which strayed into the waters of the British Overseas Territory.

Tensions between the UK and Spain have been fraught over the last few months following Brexit Day. Relations flared again on Friday afternoon after a Spanish patrol vessel, the P43 Relampago entered into British waters. The vessel passed near to the beaches on the east side of the island until confronted by the Royal Navy vessel.

As reported by MedMedia, the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron was forced to escort the ship out of the water after an hour-long chase.

The future of the region remains uncertain with the UK insisting it will not request an extension to the Brexit transition period.

The deadline to request an extension ends on June 30.

This week, however, the UKs chief negotiator David Frost and his counterpart Michel Barnier insisted talks must take on a new narrative to be completed.

There still remain several areas of divergence between the two over state aid, taxation, fisheries and the role of financial services.

The UKs draft agreement stated this week: “The Government will act in these negotiations on behalf of all the territories for whose international relations the UK is responsible.

“In negotiating the future relationship between these territories and the EU, the UK Government will seek out-comes which support the territories’ security and economic interests and which reflect their unique characteristics.”

Although no reference to Gibraltar was made, the islands relationship with the EU still remains undecided.

British sovereignty of the island has remained since 1713 following the treaty of Utrecht.

With the UK leaving the bloc, there is fear Spain may try to reinforce its claim on the Rock.

Previously, Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez had stated the UK would be taking a backward step by leaving the bloc.

He also added with the UK gone, Spain would now win when it came to Gibraltars sovereignty.

He said: “With Brexit we all lose, especially the United Kingdom, but when it comes to Gibraltar, Spain wins.

“The goal is to solve, once and for all, a conflict that has lasted 300 years.”

With the UK out of the bloc, Spain could now have the support of 26 other states in order to regain its claim for the island.

A senior EU diplomat commented: “They have in principle asked that the new relationship not apply to Gibraltar without the explicit consent of Spain, which will only be given if the bilateral talks with Spain and the UK over the rock are resolved.”

Despite the pressure mounting in the UK over Gibraltar, the British Government has insisted it will not abandon the island.

A Foreign Office statement said: “The UK will not exclude Gibraltar from our negotiations in relation to our future relationship with the EU.

“We will negotiate on behalf of the whole UK family, which includes Gibraltar.”

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