Spain vows to defend its Gibraltar interests while British fleet sails in (coincidentally, of course)

Mariano Rajoy says Britain should act with 'common sense and good judgement'

Spain will take “all legal measures” to protect its interests in its row with Gibraltar, its Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has warned Britain.

In tough remarks, following the failure of diplomatic efforts to defuse the row, Mr Rajoy said Spain would “defend its national interests” and suggested Britain should act with “common sense and good judgement”.

Downing Street said the British position on the issue had “been quite clear” and the Foreign Office said it was aware of Mr Rajoy’s comments.

A fleet of British warships will visit Gibraltar this month in what Prime Minister David Cameron calls a “routine deployment”.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the frigate HMS Westminster and two auxiliary Royal Navy ships will be sent to the Rock, while another three warships will visit Spanish ports.

They will be accompanied by an elite commando group from the Royal Marines and naval air squadrons. The MoD says the deployment is “long-planned” and not connected to political disagreements.

Meanwhile Spanish Prime Minister’s intervention followed a formal protest by Britain’s ambassador in Madrid over “disproportionate” checks at the border with Spain and Spanish threats to levy a charge on vehicles crossing into Gibraltar and to close airspace. Yesterday No 10 confirmed that British warships will soon set sail for Gibraltarian waters as part of a planned exercise in the Mediterranean.

The dispute flared up after Gibraltarian authorities dropped concrete blocks in the sea off the territory’s coastline. The Gibraltar government said it was attempting to create an artificial reef to protect marine life.

However the Spanish believe the blocks were dropped to prevent Spanish fishermen from trawling in the area.

In a press conference Mr Rajoy said: “We will take legal measures which are proportionate to defend the interests of Spaniards. I hope that this issue goes no further, but Spain has to defend its national interests.

“We can and should carry out border controls like the ones which we have carried out in recent days.”

The Spanish Prime Minister’s intervention came two days after a phone call with David Cameron, who told his counterpart the situation at the border with Gibraltar was “not acceptable”.

Downing Street said that in the “constructive” phone call Mr Rajoy agreed to reducing measures at the border, but a statement issued by the Spanish government afterwards made no reference to any such concession.

The European Commission has suggested organising a “technical meeting” with the Spanish authorities about the border controls in September or October. Spain claims sovereignty over Gibraltar, which has been a British Overseas Territory since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

The UK Government has made clear that it will not negotiate over sovereignty as long as Gibraltar’s people want to remain British.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence