The latest spat between the UK and Spain

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This little island is at the heart of the latest controversy.

This little island is at the heart of the latest controversy.

This little island is at the heart of the latest controversy.

Ricardo Golac, Staff Writer

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After Britain’s surprising Brexit vote last summer, the 30,000 residents of the tiny British territory of Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, with 95.9 percent of votes cast in favor of staying. Shortly after the voting results were announced, Madrid- which has long believed that the territory belongs to Spain- called for joint sovereignty over Gibraltar.

 

This political action did not go well with British politicians- and some are now publicly threatening actual war with Spain. British Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon suggested recently that Britain is ready to use military force to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar, vowing to go “all the way” to protect the territory. Prime Minister Theresa May, though, seems to laugh off questions about whether the UK would take military action against Spain over Gibraltar. May told reporters on Monday that she prefers “jaw-jaw” to “war-war.”

 

For those who don’t know what Gibraltar is, it’s a 2.5 square mile peninsula at the tip of Spain that has been under British control for more than 300 years. The island was captured by British and Dutch forces from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession, and was ceded to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Gibraltar has remained under British control ever since, despite Spain’s multiple attempts to take it back. Spain has on many occasions, tried to influence the political landscape of Gibraltar by asking for referendums regarding British rule to take place, however Gibraltar almost always ignored political pressure from Spain.

 

The majority of Gibraltarians, however, are British citizens who hold British passports and who want to remain under British control and the EU. Spain’s Foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, called for joint sovereignty over the rock as soon as the UK had the Brexit vote, which would be negotiated during the Brexit process, which is still ongoing.

 

This is not the first time that the British and another country have had disputes over the sovereignty of a British overseas territory. On April 2, 1982, the United Kingdom and Argentina went to war for ten weeks over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. The war ended in 900 deaths and was remembered in a ceremony on Sunday. The majority of British and the Theresa May, however, would rather seek a diplomatic solution to the issue.

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