Royal Navy orders Spanish warship to leave UK waters off Gibraltar
A SPANISH naval vessel has been ordered to leave British territorial waters off Gibraltar by a Royal Navy.
The patrol boat Infanta Cristina was told to exit the area by the Royal Navy unit stationed in the British overseas territory.
It comes amid grown tension between London and Madrid over the future of the Rock over the Brexit fallout.
A spokeswoman for the government of Gibraltar said: ‘The ship entered British/Gibraltarian territorial waters. It was met by the Gibraltar Squadron and invited to leave.’
The spokeswoman was unable to say if Gibraltar would make a formal protest to Spain over the incident.
The Spanish naval incursion follows the country’s foreign minister Alfonso Dastis telling the UK to calm down after former Tory leader Lord Howard suggested prime minister Theresa May might be ready to go to war to keep Gibraltar British.
Tensions increased after an EU document suggested that Spain would be given a veto on post-Brexit agreements governing the British overseas territory.
This prompted Lord Howard to say he believed Mrs May would defend the Rock as Margaret Thatcher did the Falklands.
While the EU Brexit negotiating guidelines released by European Council president Donald Tusk last week made no reference to Spain’s claim of sovereignty over Gibraltar, the decision to give Madrid a key role in deciding if a trade deal will apply to the Rock caused deep unease in Whitehall.
Earlier today, a former head of the Royal Navy revealed an embarrassing blunder which led to Royal Marines ‘invading’ a Spanish beach by accident.
The incident happened in 2002 during a training exercise, Admiral Lord Alan West revealed today.
Commandos were meant to storm a coastal strip on Gibraltar as part of the exercise but accidentally landed across the border in Spain.