Falkland Islanders ‘don’t care’ about Argentina pressure

VISIT MP Penny Mordaunt in the cockpit of an RAF Hercules over the Falklands
VISIT MP Penny Mordaunt in the cockpit of an RAF Hercules over the Falklands

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FALKLAND Islanders regard the recent posturing by Argentina with indfifference, an MP has claimed following a visit to the disputed territory.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt visited the Falklands with fellow MPs from the Commons Defence Select Committee last week.

She told The News local people were not gravely concerned about the rising tensions and rhetoric between London and Buenos Aires in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.

‘People are not obsessing about Argentina,’ she said.

‘They are really seeing them as an irrelevance and are focusing on the future.

‘They’ve got tremendous prospects there in oil and other industries such as tourism, marine research and conservation.

‘We spent a lot of time talking to people there who are all really positive. They are very proud of the past but they are looking to the future.’

Argentina has repeatedly called for Britain to give up the Falklands. But the UK government says it is a matter for Islanders to decide on.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘They are very resolved and they are confident that, not just Britain, but many other nations support their right to self-determination and their right to remain British.

‘They think Argentina has been sounding off recently to try and get some sort of a foothold in negotiations. But people here don’t have a sense of living under a cloud or anything like that. It’s obvious from talking to them that they feel the future is bright for them as a nation.’

Ms Mordaunt called the visit by the MPs ‘timely’.

It comes after Argentina accused Britain of ‘militarising’ the South Atlantic after The News revealed the Royal Navy is due to send the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless to the territory soon.

It also follows the deployment of Prince William there as a search and rescue pilot.

Ms Mordaunt met the Royal during a tour around the air base RAF Mount Pleasant.

She said: ‘He seems to be enjoying his time out there.

‘We went to see the search and rescue crews and he came over and introduced himself.

‘He’s just like anyone else – he’s out there to do a job.’

April 2 marks 30 years to the day since Argentina invaded the Falklands. It led to a 74-day war which killed 258 British and 649 Argentinian troops, and three Islanders.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘It’s been a very timely visit. People here are getting on with their lives and that’s what we hoped we would find. We wanted Falklanders to be reassured by our visit.’