Madrid has urged the UK to calm down over Gibraltar, after former Conservative leader Lord Howard suggested Theresa May would defend the territory as Margaret Thatcher did the Falklands.
The future status of the Rock emerged as a potential issue in Brexit talks after European Council president Donald Tusk circulated draft EU negotiating guidelines suggesting Spain would have a veto over the British overseas territory’s participation in a future deal.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has spoken to Gibraltar’s leader, Fabian Picardo, to reassure him the UK remains “absolutely dedicated to working with Gibraltar for the best possible outcome on Brexit”.
And Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson insisted there could be no change to its status without the consent of the people of Gibraltar.
Arriving in Luxembourg for a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Mr Johnson said: “The position of the Government is very, very clear, which is that the sovereignty of Gibraltar is unchanged and it is not going to change and cannot conceivably change without the express support and consent of the people of the Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, and that is not going to change.”
In a series of television interviews over the weekend, Lord Howard repeatedly compared the situation to the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands which led to war with the UK.