Cast iron commitment UK opposition Labour tells Falkland Islands
A CONSERVATIVE Minister has claimed only his party can be relied on to protect Falkland Islands interests but the Labour Shadow Minister for the British Overseas Territories has assured Penguin News that Labour too has a “cast iron commitment” to the Falklands.
The eyes of UK party politics turned on the Falkland Islands amidst the party conferences this year, with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly committing to visit the Falklands to support the self-determination of the Islands.
The Foreign Secretary said he had a “run-in with the Argentine Government” and said the Government of Argentina had been flexing their “muscle when it comes to the people of the Falklands” as an election approaches.
“I believe in the right of people having self-determination and the people of the Falklands have made their position clear and we need to return a Conservative government to make sure they and others around the world are protected.”
He continued, “to hammer home that point, I am going to take the opportunity to visit the Falklands because I think it is my job to make it absolutely clear [that] it is only a Conservative government that can be trusted to look after the best interests of this country and those others around the world who rely on British good governance.”
However Penguin News reached out to Shadow Minister for the British Overseas Territories Stephen Doughty on the claim that “only a Conservative government that can be trusted to look after the best interests of [the Falklands.]”
Mr Doughty responded “I have been proud to repeatedly make crystal clear before, after and during my visit, alongside my Labour colleagues, that Labour has a cast-iron commitment to the sovereignty, self-determination and defence of the Falklands and would hold resolutely to this if we formed the next UK Government.”
Mr Doughty visited in November of 2022 during the year of Commemorations for the 40th Anniversary of 1982, and said of this visit when contacted by Penguin News “I have already been to visit the beautiful, diverse, and resilient Falkland Islands and to meet so many people, businesses – and of course our amazing UK armed forces. From visiting farms in Camp on West Falkland, swimming at Yorke Bay, to meeting diverse communities in Goose Green, meeting young people at school in Stanley, enjoying dinner with local people, and meeting businesses and elected representatives – as well as of course paying personal tribute to the fallen of 1982 – I have incredible memories of my visit.”
He added: “The Falklands are British. We will defend them. And we need to ensure unity and cross-party support in that – not indulge in false and divisive political game-playing.”
If Mr Cleverly is to visit he would be the first Cabinet Minister to visit since 2016, when the then-Defense Secretary Michael Fallon visited.
Legislative Assembly response
When asked for comment on the developments on behalf of the Assembly current Chair MLA Mark Pollard said “We are always grateful for the consistent cross-party support we receive from the UK.
“We look forward to welcoming the Foreign Secretary and we also look forward to welcoming Westminster MPs/Peers later in the year from Labour, Conservative and the Liberal Democrats.”
Photo: Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (right) visits the Falklands stand, manned by MLAs Pete Biggs and Roger Spink – and FIG Representative to the UK, Richard Hyslop, at the Conservative Party Conference [Photo: FIG Representative to the UK and Europe Twitter]. Inset: Stephen Doughty MP