David Cameron has publicly rebuked the new Pope for backing Argentina’s territorial claim to the Falklands.
Less than two days after Pope Francis was elected pontiff he found himself criticised by the PM for accusing the UK of usurping his homeland’s ownership of the islands.
At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Cameron called on all world leaders, including the Pope, to respect the referendum held in the Falklands earlier this week in which the islanders voted overwhelmingly to remain British.
In a reference to the way cardinals signalled on Wednesday that they had elected a new Pope, the Prime Minister said: “The white smoke over the Falklands was pretty clear.” He was responding to a question on whether he agreed with Pope Francis on the issue of the Falkland Islands. He said: “I don’t agree with him – respectfully, obviously. There was a pretty extraordinarily clear referendum in the Falkland Islands and I think that is a message to everyone in the world that the people of these islands have chosen very clearly the future they want and that choice should be respected by everyone.”
In the referendum held in the Falklands 99.8 per cent of the islanders who voted said they wanted to remain a UK Overseas Territory. Pope Francis, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, said at a mass in Buenos Aires last year on the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War that the Argentine soldiers who died had gone to “defend their mother, the homeland, to reclaim what is theirs”. He went on to dismiss Britain’s invasion to seize the islands back as a “usurpation”.