Spanish ship off Gibraltar amid tensions with Britain

CEB1 137 News, Spain, Great Britain
CEB1 485 News, Spain, Great Britain

A Spanish Foreign Ministry spokesman denied on Tuesday that the presence of a Spanish ship off Gibraltar was illegal, saying the ship's presence was "the use of our waters". Tensions are rising after the EU decided to grant Spain a veto over the future relationship between Gibraltar and the Union.

The Government of Gibraltar announced on Tuesday that a Spanish Navy ship had entered the territorial waters of the British enclave without obtaining permission from the government.

"This is not an illegal entry, as for us it is the use of our waters," said a spokesman for the Spanish Foreign Ministry.

"Spain does not recognize any other rights and situations concerning the United Kingdom for territorial waters not covered by Article 10 of the Utrecht Treaty," he said.

The EU decision to veto Spain has sparked tensions between Madrid and London.

Former Tory leader Michael Howard, who believes Theresa May would be ready to go to war to defend Gibraltar, as did then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who declared war on Argentina over the Flans Islands.

The Spanish Foreign Minister said he was surprised by the tone adopted by London.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that Gibraltar's sovereignty remains unchanged and cannot be changed without the consent of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar itself.

A spokeswoman for Theresa May, however, said Britain would wait until the end of the month to find out what guidelines the other members of the European Union had agreed on on issues such as Gibraltar.

A spokesman for May said Michael Howard was "trying to demonstrate that we's determined to protect Gibraltar's rights and sovereignty."

The EU's intent has also angered Gibraltar.

The Prime Minister of Gibraltar criticized the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, saying: "Mr Tusk, who intends to resort to divorce proceedings, is behaving like a cheating spouse who exploits children."

Fabian Picardo believes that Spain is trying to terrorize Gibraltar and that the European Union allows it to do so, while declaring that the British pocket will not allow it to become a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations.

"We will not allow ourselves to become a bargaining chip and fall victim to Brexit as we are not to blame for Brexit: we voted in favor of staying in the European Union, so becoming a target is tantamount to allowing Spain to act as a bully," he said. on Reuters.

Picardo called for the reference to Gibraltar to be removed from the draft negotiating roadmap. "Removing the reference to Gibraltar would be a sign of good faith and goodwill," he said.