BRITAIN will “always defend” the Falkland Islands, the Defence Secretary said after Argentina’s newly-elected president vowed to “get them back”.
Grant Shapps said the Falklands are undeniably British in comments which seem to be in direct response to right-wing Javier Milei, who told voters the islands belong to his country.
Mr Shapps wrote on social media: “The Falkland Islands are British. That is non-negotiable and undeniable.
“99.8% of islanders voted to remain British and we will always defend their right to self-determination and the UK’s sovereignty with @HMS_Forth now back to protect the islands.”
Mr Milei is a former TV pundit who has risen from obscurity and will be sworn in as President on December 10.
He said about the Falklands: “What do I propose? Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands is non-negotiable. The Malvinas are Argentine.
“Now we have to see how we are going to get them back. It is clear that the war option is not a solution.
“We had a war – that we lost – and now we have to make every effort to recover the islands through diplomatic channels.”
The islands were the subject of a bloody conflict in 1982 after Argentine forces invaded and briefly occupied the territory.
British ministers regularly cite the results of a 2013 referendum that saw close to 100% of voters on the islands, which has a population of about 3,500 people, opt to remain a UK Overseas Territory.
Mr Milei proposed a solution similar to the one the UK had with China over Hong Kong.
However, it is understood constant offshore patrol vessels presence is always maintained and the handover had already been planned