Harriet Alexander writes in The Telegraph: “Gibraltar is a territory “under siege” and Spain should be made to account for its actions in relation to The Rock, the shadow minister for Europe has said.
Gareth Thomas, the Labour MP for Harrow West, said that residents of Gibraltar were concerned that Britain was not doing enough to defend them from Spanish harassment. The past 12 months have seen the highest ever number of incursions by Spanish ships into Gibraltar’s waters, with the almost double the incidents from 2012.
“I was struck by the sense that the Gibraltarians have of being under siege,” said Mr Thomas, who visited Gibraltar in November. “Spanish ships are coming into their waters on a regular basis.”
Ahead of a debate in the House of Lords on Monday, Mr Thomas has written to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, to call for him to press the European Commission to take further action. The Commission visited Gibraltar over the summer, to inspect the border after weeks of particularly long queues at the frontier.
And in the letter, seen by The Daily Telegraph, Mr Thomas requested that Mr Hague ask the Commission to publish their correspondence with the Spanish authorities “outlining a number of concerns about the heavy handed nature of controls on the Spanish side of the border with Gibraltar.”
Mr Thomas also asked Mr Hague to address the issue of why, to his knowledge, no Foreign Office minister has visited Gibraltar since the election of a new government on The Rock in 2011 – “despite the notable increase in tensions in the area.”
He warned that there had been “some very close incidents” when Spanish ships made illegal incursions into Gibraltar’s waters, and that accidents had only been avoided by the “first class” handling of the situation by Gibraltarian and British forces.
“But we should not take that for granted,” he told The Telegraph.
David Lidington, minister for Europe, has told MPs that the UK has made repeated diplomatic protests over incursions in recent months.
Mr Lidington said Spain had increased unlawful incursions by its state vessels into UK territorial waters from about five per month to about 40 per month.
“We stand ready to do whatever is required to protect Gibraltar’s sovereignty, economy and security,” Mr Lidington said.
But Mr Thomas said that the diplomatic pressure was insufficient.
“Not enough is being done to raise the issue with Madrid,” he said.
“Sure, they call in the Spanish Ambassador to London from time to time, but that does not ever really change the situation.
“The people there feel that they’re not being listened to by Britain.” “(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/gibraltar/10582854/Britain-is-not-doing-enough-to-defend-Gibraltar-says-shadow-Europe-minister.html)
Similarly, please read the following from The Guardian back in September with regard to Cameron’s abhorrently shameful foreign policy with regard to Ascension Island: