Spain 'Surprised' by British Talk of War
Gibraltar debate is getting heated
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2017 4:03 AM CDT
A Spanish flag flies on top of the customs house on the Spanish side of the border between Spain and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar.   (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, File)
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(Newser) – The triggering of Brexit was expected to lead to some robust exchanges between Britain and other EU members—but not many people expected open talk of war within days. The BBC reports that on Sunday, former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard warned that if it has to, Britain will defend its Gibraltar territory from Spain the same way it defended the Falklands Islands 35 years ago. In 1982, "another woman prime minister sent a task force halfway across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country" and Theresa May "will show the same resolve in standing by the people," Howard said.

Howard's remarks followed the EU's release of Brexit negotiating guidelines stating that Spain would have to sign off on any decisions affecting Gibraltar, a 2.6-square-mile territory on its south coast. "Someone in the UK is losing their cool and there's no need for it," said Spain's foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis. "The Spanish government is a little surprised by the tone of comments coming out of Britain, a country known for its composure," he added, per the Guardian. Opposition UK lawmakers called talk of war "ludicrous," while May promised that Britain would stand by the territory. Some 99% of Gibraltarians rejected sharing sovereignty with Spain in a 2002 referendum—and last year, 96% of them voted against Brexit.

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