FALLOUT from Brexit will not stop Britain from retaining sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, the foreign secretary has vowed – much to the joy of veterans who fought to retake the territory 36 years ago.
Jeremy Hunt was asked by Tory Kevin Foster to assert there will be ‘no question’ of undermining the South Atlantic archipelago's status as British territory.
It followed a suggestion from Argentina's foreign minister, Jorge Faurie, that the country could take advantage of any no-deal Brexit uncertainty to bring the Falkland Islands under its control.
However, Mr Hunt told MPs this would never happen.
The news has been welcomed by Falkland veterans from Portsmouth, who said handing over the islands after Britain sacrificed so much to defend them in 1982 from Argentine invaders, would have been an insult to the memories of all those killed and wounded.
Retired Petty Officer Barrie Jones, of Laburnum Grove, Copnor, fought through the conflict and is a staunch support of the islands.
He said: ‘I welcome with open arms what the foreign secretary said.
‘And I have four words for Argentina: they can jog on.
‘It is never going to happen. Those islands have been British for centuries. We have already been down there once, had a little argument with the Argentinians and kicked their butts.
‘We have got more forces down there than we did before. Their navy is too scared to come out because they know they will have a nuclear submarine on them like that and that would be the end of it.’
Mr Foster, MP for Torbay, raised the issue in the Commons during Foreign Office questions.
He said: ‘Given the extraordinary declaration by the Argentinian foreign minister that Argentina will seek to enhance its claims to the Falklands if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, will (Mr Hunt) confirm, deal or no deal, there will be no question whatsoever of undermining the status of the Falkland Islands as British territory?’
Mr Hunt replied emphatically: ‘I'm happy to confirm exactly that.’
Portsmouth played a critical role in defending the Falklands when the islands were invaded in 1982.
Royal Navy warships based in the city, as well as soldiers from across the region, formed part of the task force which liberated the territory from the Argentinians.
However, in an interview with the Telegraph last week, Mr Faurie claimed Argentina could once again stake it’s claim on the islands.
He said: 'Our planning for Las Malvinas (the Argentine name for the islands) is to have a negotiation that will enable stronger relations between the people on the islands and the people on the continent.
‘And we hope that the non-Brexit solution will enhance the possibility of that dialogue to be truly one with results.
‘If you think member states (of the EU) would not sustain the Malvinas claim in favour of the UK, we are there ... to talk, to negotiate, to see what would be the best solution for the people in the islands to be much more in touch with Argentina.’