LONDON – London Mayor Boris Johnson on Monday issued a warning to Spain over Gibraltar after Madrid vowed to defend its interests in the British outpost.
The Conservative mayor urged the government to “prize Spanish hands off the throat of our colony” after it increased border checks in retaliation for the building of an artificial reef in disputed waters.
Britain last week said it was sending a force of warships to Gibraltar on its way to naval exercises in the Mediterranean, while Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his country will take “all necessary measures” to defend its interests.
Spain has mooted a €50 ($66) toll to enter or leave Gibraltar, saying proceeds will be used to help fishermen who have suffered from the creation of an artificial reef by the British outpost.
Johnson compared Spain’s claims to Gibraltar to those of Argentina to the Falkland Islands, saying they were both being used to divert attention away from domestic problems.
Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity in 1713 but has long argued that it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty. London says it will not do so against the wishes of Gibraltarians, who are staunchly pro-British.