Brexit '˜will not derail' duo's quest to twin Gibraltar and Falklands

CAMPAIGNERS battling to twin two of Britain's biggest overseas territories have pledged they will continue their crusade in the face of Brexit.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 2nd January 2018, 4:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd January 2018, 4:46 pm
Stephen Sedgwick raises the Gibraltar flag outside the Civic Offices in Portsmouth for National Gibraltar Day in 2013
Stephen Sedgwick raises the Gibraltar flag outside the Civic Offices in Portsmouth for National Gibraltar Day in 2013

Portsmouth men Barrie Jones and Stephen Sedgwick are determined to forge a new link between Gibraltar and the Falklands Islands.

The pair feel the move would send a strong message to other countries and reaffirm the UK’s commitment to the security of both areas.

But they say their fight to lobby the government has been overshadowed by the Brexit negotiations.

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Despite the setback, the duo are determined to continue their battle and are appealing for more support from Portsmouth.

Mr Jones – a retired Royal Navy Petty Officer who served on board HMS Intrepid during the 1982 Falklands War – said: ‘These islands are so important to so many people, they mustn’t be forgotten while Brexit is going on.’

The 58-year-old, of North End, said the pair’s plea had already garnered support from Portsmouth’s council boss, Councillor Donna Jones and city MP Penny Mordaunt.

The Gibraltan community and residents living on the Falklands Islands had also thrown their weight behind it, he added.

Now the duo are urging people from the area to back their quest and lobby their local MPs.

Mr Jones said: ‘We’re a forces city. We sent people 8,000 miles to support those people down there (in the Falklands) and we should continue to do so.’

In recent months, the Royal Navy has chased off Spanish warship from Gibraltan waters. Mr Jones added Argentina still remained a threat to the Falklands’ security.

‘They are the biggest overseas territories that we’ve got,’ he said.

‘Yet they are experiencing continued grief from Spain and Argentina. We need to support them. Let’s show the world by example and twin these two countries together in a show of solidarity.

‘This country fought for them and it should stand by them.’

Mr Sedgwick has already forged closer links with Portsmouth and the overseas territory.

The city now flies the Falkland Islands flag every day on June 14 to mark the community’s liberation.

He also arranged for the Falkland Islands and Portsmouth to fly the Gibraltar flag on the national day of Gibraltar on September 10.

Turbulent history of the two territories

BOTH Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands have seen their fair share of disruption.

Last year marked the 35th anniversary of the Falklands conflict, in which 255 British servicemen died, alongside three islanders and more than 600 Argentineans.

The islands were invaded on April 2 and occupied by Argentine forces for more than two months before eventually being liberated by the British on June 14.

The islands had been in British hands since 1765, when Commodore John Byron landed at Port Egmont and took possession of the islands for the British crown.

A year later, Captain John MacBride established a British settlement at Port Egmont. This prompted a diplomatic incident in 1770 after the Spanish forced the British out of the settlement.

Tensions over the islands’ sovereignty continued as Argentina later claimed the territory was theirs.

Gibraltar has faced similar issues since it was captured by the British in 1704 during the war of Spanish Succession.

Under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 Gibraltar was ceded to Britain.

Since then the island has faced many sieges, often led by the Spanish.

The biggest was in 1779, which lasted for four years before the Spanish and French attackers gave up.

In two referenda in 1998 and 2002, islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain a British territory and not become a Spanish one.