Gibraltar NOT weapon against Spain! UK hits back as fury grows over Royal Navy patrol boat

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Gibraltar, which has been a British Overseas Territory since 1713, when it was ceded to London under the Treaty of Utrecht. However, Spain continues to stake a claim to The Rock, which is located on the edge of the Iberian Peninsula.

But Ben Wallace, who visited Madrid ahead of upcoming NATO talks in Spain next month, praised the relationship between the Spanish capital and London as “allies”.

During a meeting with his Spanish counterpart, Margarita Robles, the Defence Secretary lauded the good military relationship between the two countries.

He dismissed the idea the UK would beef up its military presence in Gibraltar in order to leverage Spain.

The Defence Secretary said: “Gibraltar is not used in any way against Spain.

“That is a myth, it is not true.

“It is only used as a base for our forces if they act jointly in the Mediterranean, because we are allies.”

Mr Wallace did stress the Rock “is not a military base as it was in the 80s or 90s”.

He added the military capacity in Gibraltar has been downgraded in recent years, although the Rock remained “strategically” critical.

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At the top of the agenda will be the Ukraine war, which Mr Wallace said will show the EU and NATO to be “more united than ever”.

He added: “I think it’s going to be a great success and it’s very important because people will realise that NATO is for everyone and that we’re not just focusing on parts of Europe.”

The UK and Spain share a global goal in “upholding our common values”, Mr Wallace said, calling Spain not just a “vital NATO ally”, but “one of the leaders in European defence”.

He said: “Spain and the UK have been NATO Allies for forty years and our armed forces have worked together in operations right across the world.

“As we have seen through Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, this defensive cooperation matters, as we continue to support Ukraine and focus on the wider stability and security of Europe.”

However, tensions were visible between Madrid and London when the UK Royal Navy patrol vessel, the HMS Trent, was moved to the Rock last year.

At the time, Commodore Steve Dainton, the Commander of British Forces in Gibraltar, called the move a “demonstration of the MoD’s long term commitment to developing Gibraltar as a strategic global hub and part of a much larger and comprehensive investment programme on the Rock moving forward”.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.



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