Nigel Evans urges the Government to tell Spain: “Hands off the Rock”

Nigel Evans asked an Urgent Question to the Minister for Europe today on the subject of the escalating diplomatic tensions over Gibraltar, following the searching of two British diplomatic bags last Friday.

Addressing the Minister, after his response, Mr Evans said:

“I am grateful to the Minister of State for that response. As he said, the serious incident last Friday goes against the 1961 Vienna convention on diplomatic relations. Official correspondence and diplomatic bags should simply not be tampered with. Last time anything such as this happened was 13 years ago with the Zimbabwean regime of Robert Mugabe—not the best company to be associated with. This is the first time that an EU state or NATO ally has opened a UK diplomatic bag, violating the 1961 Vienna convention. That enormously serious breach comes on top of tedious and spiteful delays at the Gibraltar-Spanish border, and the incursion of a Spanish vessel into waters off Gibraltar. The deterioration of relations between the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and Spain serves nobody well.

“The Spanish ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office last week but clearly that has not had the desired effect. Nobody wants a further escalation of events or further deterioration in relations, but at the same time Spain must be made to know that its actions are intolerable, unwarranted, and will be met with an appropriate response, defending the rights of the people of Gibraltar and respecting international conventions. What actions will Her Majesty’s Government take to ensure that once and for all Spain gets the message? Hands off the Rock!”

The whole debate can be found here.

Speaking after leaving the Chamber, Mr Evans said:

“The Government should not be complacent on this issue because the Spanish government have form. This is the most serious breach of international protocols to date coming on top of cumulative illegal actions and acts of gross spite. Unless they get the message then they will continue to infringe and irritate and break international conventions. 

“If the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs cannot speak Spanish then he must quickly utilise a language that Spain fully understands.”