Cameron lashes out at Argentinean 'colonialism' over Falklands

War of words over Falklands hots up
War of words over Falklands hots up

By Alex Stevenson

Argentina has a more colonial attitude to the Falklands than the UK, prime minister David Cameron has told the Commons.

The jibe at Buenos Aires' recent rhetoric against Britain's continued sovereignty over the South Atlantic archipelago is the latest in an ongoing war of words with Cristina Fernandez Kerchner's administration. She recently called Britain "a crass colonial power in decline".

Mr Cameron hit back today, reiterating the UK government's commitment to the Falklanders' right to self-determination after being invited to condemn the "wholly deplorable" actions of the Argentine government by Conservative backbencher Andrew Rosindell.

"The absolutely vital point is we are clear the future of the Falkland Islands is a matter for the people themselves," the prime minister insisted.

"As long as they want to remain part of the UK and be British they should be able to do so, that is absolutely key."

He then added: "What the Argentineans have been saying recently I would argue is far more like colonialism because these people want to remain British, and the Argentineans want them to do something else."

No 10 sources confirmed a full meeting of the national security meeting met yesterday to consider the ongoing defence of the Falkland Islands.

Mr Cameron said the meeting had taken place because he was "determined" to ensure Britain's ability to defend the islands "and everything else is in order".

Britain maintains a permanent garrison of 2,500 service personnel on the Falkland Islands, but there are fears spending cuts at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) could erode the UK military's ability to defend the island from attack.

Mr Rosindell told he doubted whether the UK still has the ability to replicate the task force dispatched to the Falklands in 1982 by Margaret Thatcher.

"I am concerned if we mount another task force, with the cuts we've seen to the British Navy, it would be very difficult to do if not impossible," he said.

"The government need to very careful that we cover our backs."

Defence chiefs will not be able to deploy an operational aircraft carrier until 2020, making the Falkland Islands much harder to retake if an Argentinean force successfully invaded.

Even after 2020 it will be up to the French to approve deployments of their aircraft carrier when Britain's own vessel is receiving maintenance.

Mr Rosindell said he agreed with Mr Cameron's claim that Argentina's recent behaviour was excessively confrontational.

He added: "Argentina should behave like a modern democratic country instead of a banana republic - which seems to be in their culture."

Tensions over the islands have been higher than usual recently after Buenos Aires recruited regional support for its claim to sovereignty over the Falklands.

The Mercosur bloc, which includes Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, voted last month to close their ports to ships flying the Falklands flag.

Many analysts believe the new tensions over the island are a result of British companies exploring for oil in the waters surrounding them.

"Malvinas is not an Argentine cause, it is a global cause, because in the Malvinas they are taking our oil and fishing resources," Ms Kerchner told a Mercosur summit before the move was agreed.

"And when there is need for more resources those who are strong are going to look for them wherever and however they can."


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