Falkland Islands sovereignty not up for debate, UK warns after Argentina’s new president vows to ‘get them back’


There is “no doubt” the Falkland Islands are British, Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson has said, after Argentina’s new president vowed to “get them back”.

Javier Milei, who was elected in Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday, has said Buenos Aires had “non-negotiable” sovereignty over the Falklands, known as Islas Malvinas by Argentines.

He said his government would “make every effort” to take the islands back “through diplomatic channels”.

But the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “The UK has no doubt about the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.”

The Falkland Islands were the subject of a bloody conflict in 1982 after Argentine forces invaded and briefly occupied the territory.

The war claimed the lives of 255 British servicemen, three islanders and 649 Argentine personnel.

Mr Sunak’s spokesperson said: “The UK government will continue to proactively defend the Falkland islanders’ right to self-determination.”

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.

The No 10 official said Falklands rule was an “issue that was settled decisively some time ago”.

Read more:
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Javier Milei used to carry a chainsaw at his early rallies as a symbol of his planned cuts. Pic: AP
Javier Milei. Pic: AP

New president pledges to recover islands ‘through diplomatic channels’

Mr Milei had reportedly said during a TV election debate: “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.”

In an interview with daily newspaper La Nacion, Mr Milei proposed the UK hand over the Falklands to his South American country in a similar way to how Hong Kong was given over to Chinese rule in 1997.

The populist politician, a self-described anarcho-capitalist who has been compared to former US president Donald Trump, conceded that the views of those living on the islands “cannot be ignored”.

‘Undeniable’ Falkland Islands are British

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it is “non-negotiable and undeniable” the Falkland Islands are British.

He tweeted: “99.8% of islanders voted to remain British and we will always defend their right to self-determination and the UK’s sovereignty.”

Rejecting any negotiation on the future of the Falklands, Mr Shapps highlighted how Royal Navy ship HMS Forth had been sent back to “protect the islands” in the southern hemisphere. It follows a nine-month stint by HMS Medway to patrol the remote location.

It comes after Mr Sunak criticised the EU for its “regrettable choice of words” in July after it appeared to have endorsed the name Argentina prefers.

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