British MPs call on UK to 'get off fence' on Gibraltar

Spain disputes British sovereignty over the peninsula, which has long been a point of contention in relations between the two countries, with tensions increasing over the last year.

British MPs call on UK to 'get off fence' on Gibraltar

World Bulletin / News Desk

Britain should take a tougher stand towards Spain in disputes over Gibraltar, including using legal action and more diplomatic protests, a UK parliamentary committee urged on Tuesday.

Spain disputes British sovereignty over the peninsula, which has long been a point of contention in relations between the two countries, with tensions increasing over the last year.

A report to Westminster stated that the Foreign Affairs committee, a group of lawmakers who analyse the work of Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, urged the government to "get off the fence and take a tougher line with Spain".

It recommended the government make London's support for Spanish aims on the international stage dependent on Madrid's action regarding the British outpost and increase the diplomatic protests and summoning of the ambassador.

"The behaviour of Spain toward Gibraltar is unacceptable. We have a situation where a NATO and EU ally is deliberately impacting the economy of a British Overseas Territory," the committee's chairman Richard Ottaway said.

"We are giving entirely the wrong impression to Spain about how seriously the UK takes these issues."

Ottaway accused Madrid of causing delays at the between Spain and Gibraltar for political reasons by increasing ship incursions into British waters.

He said Britain should threaten to take legal action against Spain if the situation does not improve within six months.

In response to Gibraltar's building an artificial reef in disputed waters Madrid tightened border checks, which Spain said blocked fishing boats.

On Monday, Spanish activists removed part of the reef in an move which Britain's Foreign Office called an "act of vandalism".

Since 1713 Britain has ruled the area on the southern tip of Spain and says it will not return the territory to Madrid against the will of the roughly 30,000 who live there, who wish to remain British. 

Last Mod: 01 Temmuz 2014, 16:47
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