The Spanish police boat enters British waters off Gibraltar before being carried away by two Royal Navy ships
- The Royal Navy disembarked on the Rio Guadalete police boat on Thursday
- HMS Dasher, a P2000 Fast Patrol Boat and an RHIB, rushed towards her
- British sailors shadowed the Spaniards for 45 minutes before going home
- Comes amid tensions over the rocks amid an uncertain future after Brexit
A Spanish police boat was escorted from British territorial waters after a foray into the Bay of Gibraltar.
The Royal Navy disembarked on the Rio Guadalete police boat after repeatedly ignoring warnings of sovereignty on Thursday.
The HMS Dasher, a P2000 Fast Patrol Boat and a RHIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) raced towards Guadalete and shaded the Spaniards for about 45 minutes before heading home.
An FCO spokesman said: “We have no doubt about the sovereignty of Great Britain over the British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and are protesting against incursions to the Spanish authorities.”
The Royal Navy intercepted a Spanish ship in Gibraltar on Thursday. The HMS Dasher, a P2000 Fast Patrol Boat and a RHIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) raced towards Guadalete and shadowed the Spaniards for about 45 minutes before heading home
A Spanish police ship was intercepted by the Royal Navy yesterday
The Spanish police ship will be shadowed by the Royal Navy during the standoff on Thursday
Tensions in the bay are due to uncertainty about the future of rock after Brexit.
As part of the British agreement with the EU, Gibraltar joined the Schengen zone, which enables the free movement of people.
Despite the deal, the Spaniards have enraged the Gibraltarians by claiming they could have the final say on who can enter British territory.
It prompted Prime Minister Fabian Picardo to state briefly: “This is our country.”
The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has insisted that EU customs officers now monitor entry into Gibraltar because the UK has left Schengen.
Boris Johnson warmly welcomed the travel agreement with Spain and underlined his commitment to safeguard the interests of Gibraltar and its British sovereignty.
Schengen includes most of the 27 EU members plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The Gibraltar agreement will initially last for a period of four years.
With a land area of only 2.6 square miles, Gibraltar relies entirely on imports to supply its 34,000 residents
Even when the UK was in the EU, it never joined Schengen, which meant passports were required to travel to EU member states.
With a land area of only 2.6 square miles, Gibraltar relies entirely on imports to supply its 34,000 residents.
A no-deal scenario would have slowed down the cross-border movement of goods with new customs procedures.
Border fluidity is also vital for the approximately 15,000 people who come to Gibraltar every day to work. This makes up half of the area’s workforce. Most are Spanish and live in the impoverished neighborhood of La Linea.
In the 2016 referendum, Gibraltar voted 96 percent to remain in the EU.
Its status as a British overseas territory has always been a sensitive issue and Madrid continues to contest it.
Gibraltar: Britain’s Rock on the Med since 1713
Gibraltar is a rocky peninsula measuring 2.6 square miles just 10 miles from North Africa.
It was officially ceded permanently to Great Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession.
Called “Jabal Tariq” in Arabic, after the Muslim commander Tariq Ibn-Ziyad, who turned the rock into a fortress in 711, it has been an important naval base for more than 1,000 years.
This long maritime history explains the diverse population, with many residents of mixed Genoese, British, Spanish and Maltese ancestry.
Most Gibraltarians can speak both English and Spanish.
As a British overseas territory, it houses a military garrison and has a naval base. However, over the past few decades the EU has tried to put pressure on London and Madrid to clarify their future status.
The Rock Constitution of 2006 provides that there can be no transfer of sovereignty to Spain against the will of its voters.
In a referendum in 2002, the Gibraltarians firmly rejected the idea of common sovereignty.
Free movement between Spain and Gibraltar was fully restored in 1985, but travelers continued to experience delays at the border.
In late 2006, passenger flights between Spain and Gibraltar resumed for the first time in nearly 30 years, despite Spain resuming border controls seven years later in response to a Gibraltar plan to build an artificial reef.
The 2006 air connection was restored after Gibraltar, Spain and the UK signed agreements to improve living conditions on the Rock.