Sacrifices 30 years ago must not be in vain

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This month we mark the 30th anniversary of the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina.

Thanks to the bravery and commitment of our armed forces, this unprovoked act of aggression against the Islanders was defeated. Yet the eventual victory did not come without sacrifice, with 255 military personnel and three Islanders losing their lives during the campaign.

On April 2, exactly 30 years since the Argentinian invasion, I hosted a reception in Parliament for veterans and their families, in honour of all those who served in the conflict.

I spoke to one lady who tragically lost her father in the Falklands when she was just a child. Similarly, many of the veterans present, including the courageous and inspiring Simon Weston, reminded me once again of how great a sacrifice was made.

And it is a sacrifice that holds particular poignancy for our own local area. The conflict left an indelible mark on my constituency of Gosport, with a great number of sailors and submariners coming from the town.

Indeed, the Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fieldhouse, lived locally for years – as the town proudly commemorates in the Falklands Memorial Garden.

Gosport and Portsmouth rightly take pride in the vital contribution that they made. In late May, this will be celebrated at events throughout the area, while veterans will also receive the Freedom of the Borough of Gosport.

As MP for many of the veterans, I feel an immense sense of pride at what they sacrificed for people thousands of miles away.

Last May, I had the privilege of visiting the Falklands. It was winter there and I was particularly struck by the harsh conditions that our troops would have endured. Yet despite the cold, remoteness and distance from our own shores, I came away with the unshakeable belief that we did the right thing.

Ultimately, both then and now, the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands want to be British.

That is why I welcome this government’s recognition of the Islanders’ right to self-determination, and absolute commitment to protecting this should it be threatened.

For as we commemorate and celebrate the actions our troops in this 30th anniversary year, it is entirely right that we work to ensure their sacrifices were not in vain.