PORTSMOUTH North MP Penny Mordaunt has reacted strongly against claims by the Argentinian government that the posting of Prince William to the Falkland Islands is a ‘provocative act’.
The Duke of Cambridge will deploy to the disputed territory in the South Atlantic next month in his role as a RAF search and rescue pilot.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate about the Falklands this morning, Ms Mordaunt told MPs that Britain should be proud to be sending the future monarch to the islands in the year of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War and of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
She said: ‘His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge’s posting to the Falkland Islands should not be underplayed. He’s there to do a job, certainly, but his destiny as the future king and the man one day the islanders will owe their allegiance should not go unnoticed in this jubilee year.’
The Falklands debate was held as The News broke the story that the Royal Navy is to send one of its most powerful destroyers, HMS Dauntless, to the South Atlantic in the coming weeks.
The deployment of the £1bn Type 45 destroyer follows a period of increased tensions with Argentina over who has the right to own the Falkland Islands.
Argentina has encouraged a pact with other South American countries to block port access to vessels flying the Falkland Islands flag. It has also been pressuring Chile to halt commercial flights to the islands.
Foreign minister Jeremy Browne told this morning’s debate in Westminster Hall: ‘There is a pattern of behaviour to economically blockade the Falkland Islands which is unacceptable and counter-productive if their intention is to make the Falkland Islands part of Argentina.
‘The Government has been extremely active in condemning any attempts to erect an economic blockade. I think it is right that we call it what it is - which is an economic blockade designed to try and hurt the Falkland Islanders economically, to disadvantage them, to reduce their standard of living.
‘We have been very clear that we regard that as the wrong course of action by Argentina.
‘We want vital trade links to be maintained, we are not in any way complacent about what is happening at the moment. We understand the tactics being adopted by the Argentinian government and they may yet seek to intensify their pressure over the months ahead.’
The UK government maintains that the Falkland Islanders are British citizens and choose to be under British rule.
Mr Browne said: ‘The UK will always be forthright in our support of the islanders’ wishes and up hold their rights to self determination.
‘’The government continues to take the necessary steps to ensure the security of the Falkland Islands.’
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage told MPs: ‘The islanders’ right to determine their own future should be absolutely respected by Argentina, Britain and the rest of the international community.’
There have been fears over how deep cuts to the UK armed forces could affect Britain’s ability to retake the Falklands if Argentina did restage its 1982 invasion of the islands.
But in a passionate speech, MP Bob Russell, a former Army colonel, told the debate: ‘Let’s send a message from the chamber today: Keep your hands off the Falklands. They are British and they will remain British.’
He later added: ‘Our forces will retake the Falkland Islands if necessary even against a superior force because of the quality of the people we have in our armed forces.’