British MEP mocked at European Parliament over 'war with Spain' controversy

Seb Dance says colleagues asked him if he had 'brought your navy along'

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Indy Politics

British MEPs are reportedly being mocked at the European Parliament over the controversy sparked by claims Britain might go to war with Spain over Gibraltar.

Labour's Seb Dance said he arrived in Strasbourg on Monday and was asked whether he had "brought your navy along".

Former Conservative leader Michael Howard caused uproar on Sunday when he suggested the UK could go to war with Spain, as it had done with Argentina over the Falklands, if it used the Brexit negotiations to assert sovereignty over the British territory. Spain's foreign minister reacted by telling the UK to calm down.

Mr Dance, an MEP for London, has said the mockery is spreading. He tweeted: "Greeted in Strasbourg with a 'oh, you not brought your navy along?' Tories out of control & make Brits look ridiculous. We deserve better. People are a little amazed this is a conversation that's even happening."

Number 10 played down Lord Howard's suggestion the UK might send a taskforce to The Rock—"it isn't going to happen", said a spokesman—but refused to condemn him.

The spokesman added: "All that Lord Howard was trying to establish was the resolve that we have to protect the rights of Gibraltar and its sovereignty.

"We've been very clear that we will support fully Gibraltar's right to its sovereignty."

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said on Monday the territory's sovereignty "cannot conceivably change" unless consent is given by both Gibraltar and Britain.

Lord Howard had said: "Thirty-five years ago this week, another woman Prime Minister sent a taskforce halfway across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country, and I’m absolutely certain that our current Prime Minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar."

The comments were branded "hilarious" and "not very helpful" by the editor of Jane's Defence Weekly.

He told The Independent: "We are talking about two Nato allies. There are occasional differences between allies, but this would never be allowed to blow up into anything that would constitute open conflict.

"Nato has managed to stop Greece and Turkey engaging in open conflict for many decades, so I don’t think it would be a problem for them to stop the UK and Spain."