British Navy warship to visit Gibraltar in midst of reef spat


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A British navy warship set sail for the British territory of Gibraltar in the next few weeks amid a diplomatic spat with neighbouring Spain over an artificial reef

The departure of Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster for Gibraltar on Monday came as Reuters reported “Britain warned Spain on Monday it might take legal action to try to force Madrid to abandon tighter controls at the border with the contested British overseas territory of Gibraltar in what it called an "unprecedented" step against a European ally.”

“A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said the Spanish border checks, imposed after Gibraltar created an artificial reef which Spain said blocked its fishing vessels, were "disproportionate" and "politically motivated".”

“Tensions over the rocky outpost at the mouth of the Mediterranean to which Spain lays claim have turned into one of the worst disputes in years between the two European Union members.”

“Spain said it would not back down over the border controls which it said were a legal and proportionate step to prevent money laundering and smuggling of tobacco and other products from Gibraltar.”

“The territory, which has a population of 30,000 and relies on tourism, the gambling industry and offshore banking, has been a source of tension since Spain ceded it to Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht 300 years ago.”

“Spain's tougher checks at the 1.2 km (0.75 mile) border have caused long delays for thousands of tourists and local people. Madrid also aired the idea of imposing a border crossing fee and of banning planes using its airspace to reach Gibraltar.”
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