Manchester attack: Three more arrests in bomber investigation

  • 24 May 2017
  • From the sectionUK
Salman Abedi
Image captionSalman Abedi has been named by police as the Manchester bomber

Three more men have been arrested as police continue to investigate whether Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi acted alone.

Abedi’s 23-year-old brother has also been arrested.

Abedi killed 22 and injured 64 when he blew himself up outside an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night. An off-duty policewoman is among the dead, the BBC understands.

The UK terror threat level is now up to its highest level of “critical”.

This means more attacks may be imminent.

Military personnel are being deployed to protect key sites.

The Palace of Westminster has been closed to the public following police advice, and will not re-open until further notice, its website said.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “[Monday’s attack] was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we’ve seen before, and it seems likely – possible – that he wasn’t doing this on his own.”

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said that the bomber is thought to have been a “mule”, using a device built by someone else.


Who are the victims?

Clockwise, from top left: Georgina Callander, Saffie Roussos, Olivia Campbell, Martyn Hett, Marcin Klis, Angelika Klis, Kelly Brewster and John Atkinson

The victims include Nell Jones, 14, eight-year-old Saffie Roussos, Alison Howe, Lisa Lees, Jane Tweddle-Taylor, 50, Martyn Hett, 29, and Olivia Campbell, 15, .

Kelly Brewster, 32, John Atkinson, 28, Georgina Callander – thought to be 18 – and Marcin and Angelika Klis, a Polish couple from York, have also been named.

An off-duty police officer – who has not yet been named – was also among those killed, the BBC understands. Her husband is believed to be critically ill and their two children were also injured.

Of the 64 injured, 20 are in a critical condition, and some have lost limbs. Twelve of them are known to be children.

Several people are still missing, including Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19.

Eilidh’s friend, Laura MacIntyre, 15, who was also reported as missing, was later identified as one of the seriously injured in a Manchester hospital.

The police believe they have now identified all those killed and informed their families.

They will formally name the victims after post-mortem examinations, a process likely to take four or five days.

A hotline has been set up for people concerned about loved ones – 0800 096 0095.


What does a ‘critical’ threat level mean?

Troops join police officers on Whitehall, LondonImage copyrightPA
Image captionSoldiers join police officers patrolling in London

Prime Minister Theresa May said soldiers are being placed at Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, embassies and the Palace of Westminster to support armed police in protecting the public.

Military personnel may also be seen at other events over the coming weeks, such as concerts, Mrs May said, working under the command of police officers.

She said she did not want people to feel “unduly alarmed” but said it was a “proportionate and sensible response”.

Mrs Rudd said 984 troops had been deployed in the first instance. Up to 3,800 are available.

She said she “absolutely” expected the raising of the threat level to critical to be temporary, adding that the bomber had been known “up to a point” by the intelligence services.

The highest threat level, which is decided by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre – a group of experts from the police, government departments and agencies – has only been reached twice before.

Timeline

The first time the threat level was raised to critical was in 2006 during a major operation to stop a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs.

The following year, security chiefs raised it once more as they hunted for the men who had tried to bomb a London nightclub and attacked Glasgow Airport.

The Metropolitan Police says it has increased its presence across London.

Meanwhile, Chelsea Football Club have cancelled their Premier League victory parade, due to take place in London on Sunday, so as not to divert police resources.

In Northern Ireland, extra police officers have also been deployed at key sites and on transport networks.


Who was the attacker?

Salman Abedi is understood to be a 22-year-old born in Manchester to parents of Libyan descent, and a former University of Salford student.

He attended Burnage Academy for Boys in Manchester between 2009-11.

Hamid El-Said, who worked for the UN on tackling radicalisation and who now works at the Manchester Metropolitan University, said Abedi had a “really bad relationship” with his family and his parents had tried but failed to keep him on the “right path”.

“Eventually he was doing very bad at his university, at his education, and he didn’t complete, and they tried to take him back to Libya several times. He had difficulties adjusting to European lifestyle,” he added.

  • Abedi blew himself up in Manchester Arena’s foyer shortly after 22:30 BST on Monday
  • Fans were beginning to leave a concert by US singer Ariana Grande
  • Witnesses at the arena described seeing metal nuts and bolts among the debris of Monday’s bomb, and spoke about the fear and confusion that gripped concert-goers
  • The arena bombing is the worst attack in the UK since the 7 July bombings in 2005, in which 52 people were killed by four suicide bombers
  • So-called Islamic State has said – via IS channels on the messaging app Telegram – it was behind the attack, but this has not been verified

A former classmate of Abedi’s told the BBC that he was a “very jokey lad” but also “very short tempered” and would get angry at “the littlest thing”.

The man, who did not want to be identified, said Abedi was “away at random times throughout the year” but he did not know if he was abroad or playing truant because he hung around “the wrong crowd and was very, very gullible”.

“You could tell him anything and he would pretty much fall for it.”

He said that, before leaving the school in 2011, Abedi became “more and more religious” and that this might explain why he cut ties with former classmates.


What’s happening with the investigation?

Police officersImage copyrightAFP

Apart from the three arrests in south Manchester on Wednesday, Abedi’s older brother Ismael was arrested in Chorlton, south Manchester, on Tuesday in connection with the attack.

On Wednesday afternoon, police raided a block of flats near Manchester Piccadilly station in the city centre, requiring them to briefly close the railway line.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, who is the national counter-terrorism policing lead, said the investigation was “fast-moving and making good progress”.

“However, a critical line of inquiry is whether the dead terrorist was acting alone or part of a group,” he said.

“We still have critical lines of inquiry they’re chasing down which has led to a level of uncertainty.”

Anyone with information about the attack can call the anti-terror hotline on 0800 789321.


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Morrissey slams ‘petrified’ British politicians for not labeling Manchester attack as Islamic extremism

Musician Morrissey ripped into British politicians for failing to say Islamic extremism was the motivation behind Monday night’s bombing outside of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

The UK singer, who grew up in Manchester and was celebrating his birthday in the city at the time of the bombing, did not hold back in a lengthy Facebook post in which he called out UK Prime Minister Theresa May and several British politicians.

“Theresa May says such attacks ‘will not break us,’ but her own life is lived in a bullet-proof bubble, and she evidently does not need to identify any young people today in Manchester morgues,” the former Smiths frontman wrote. “Also, ‘will not break us’ means that the tragedy will not break her, or her policies on immigration. The young people of Manchester are already broken – thanks all the same, Theresa.”

More on this…

He then criticized Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for calling the terrorist attack the work of an “extremist” but not specifying Islamic extremism.

“An extreme what? An extreme rabbit?” Morrissey questioned.

He also slammed London Mayor Sadiq Khan for “not condemn[ing the] Islamic State – who have claimed responsibility for the bomb.”

“In modern Britain everyone seems petrified to officially say what we all say in private,” the 58-year-old concluded. “Politicians tell us they are unafraid, but they are never the victims. How easy to be unafraid when one is protected from the line of fire. The people have no such protections.”

Monday night’s suicide bombing attack outside the Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert killed 22 people including girls ages 8, 15 and 18.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and British authorities identified the terrorist as 22-year-old British citizen Salman Abedi.

Grande returned to the United States Tuesday and has remained mostly silent since the attack.

She tweeted Monday night, “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.

Britain’s PM Theresa May condemns ‘worst of humanity’

British Prime Minister Theresa May has condemned the attack on a concert in Manchester, calling it an act of “sickening cowardice.” Political leaders in Britain have agreed to suspend campaigning for upcoming elections.

Watch video00:30

May vows to defeat violent ‘ideology’

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack that killed 22 people in Manchester on Monday evening was “among the worst terrorism we have experienced in the United Kingdom,” adding that police believed they knew the identity of the suicide bomber.

The man behind the explosion that shook the Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert, aimed to cause “maximum carnage” by detonating his bomb outside one of the exits, May said. She condemned the “cold calculation” shown by the targeting of children and young people.

Read: World leaders condemn Manchester attack

“All acts of terrorism are cowardy attacks on the innocent  people, but this attack stands out for its appalling sick cowardice,” the prime minister said.

Watch video02:57

22 people dead in Manchester concert attack

May paid tribute to the response by emergency services, as well as to members of the public who helped look after those caught up in the attack.

“While we experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester last night, we also saw the best,” the prime minister said.

Read: Manchester and the world show solidarity with concert attack victims

May said that a number of those being treated in hospital were suffering from “life-threatening injuries.”

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth expressed her deepest sympathy for those affected by the attack, which she described as an “act of barbarity.”

“The whole nation has been shocked by the death and injury in Manchester last night of so many people, adults and children, who had just been enjoying a concert,” said the queen in a statement.

Read: From Madrid to Manchester – a timeline of terror in Europe

Earlier, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reacted to the “terrible incident” on Twitter, saying his “thoughts were with all those affected.” He later posted a longer statement.

I am horrified by the horrendous events in Manchester. My thoughts are with families and friends of those who have died and been injured.

Political leaders spoke on Tuesday and had agreed to suspend their election campaigns “until further notice” following the attacks. National elections are scheduled in Britain for June 8.

Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the blast in Manchester was “a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society – young people and children out at a pop concert.”

Watch video01:35

UK Home Secretary condemns ‘barbaric’ attack

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham made a statement on Tuesday morning, saying the citzens of Manchester had experienced the “darkest of nights” and were “waking up to the most difficult of dawns.”

Burnham condemned the “evil act” that took place at the concert, but said “today it will be business as usual, as far as possible, in our great city.”

Read: Are Europeans getting used to terror?

The mayor also praised citizens who opened their doors to people fleeing the attack in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. #RoomsForManchester was used on Twitter to provide people with no way of getting home with a place to stay after the explosion.

rc/rt (AP, Reuters)

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Theresa May’s cult of personality

As the UK heads toward the June 8 snap election, the Conservative Party is relying heavily on Prime Minister Theresa May’s personal popularity. Samira Shackle reports from London.

Schottland - Edinburgh - Theresa May (Getty Images/J. J. Mitchell)

A party political broadcast for the Conservative Party currently being shown on British television barely mentions the party. It features leader Theresa May giving a speech, as inspirational music plays in the background. At the end of the broadcast, large text asks “Theresa May – or Jeremy Corbyn?” The Conservative Party’s emblem is displayed in a much smaller font.

Watch video00:56

May: No illusions about Brexit

This mirrors a wider strategy by the Conservative Party, as Britain heads toward a snap general election on June 8.

Numerous campaign events have been brandished with large banners proclaiming “Theresa May’s Team,” with the Conservative logo barely visible.

Local candidates in marginal seats refer to themselves as “Theresa May’s local candidate.”

Read more: UK Conservatives slip in opinion polls ahead of election

The motivation for this strategy is clear from the polls, which suggest that the Conservatives have the support of around 40 percent of voters, but that 61 percent believe May is the best choice for prime minister, compared with just 23 percent who support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for the job. This makes May’s popularity rating higher than Margaret Thatcher’s or Tony Blair’s at their peak (48 percent and 52 percent respectively).

“While the sensible remnants of the Labour Party seek to obscure toxic Corbyn during the campaign, the Conservatives are going to astonishing lengths to obscure their own party behind their leader,” says Sophie Gaston, head of international projects at the left-leaning think tank Demos. “The strategy has a clever rationale – the polls show that May leads Corbyn among every demographic, while the Tory party itself will remain perennially toxic for some portions of the electorate.”

Großbritannien Liverpool - Jeremy Corbyn nach Parteisieg (Reuters/P. Nicholls)Many pundits say Corbyn is fighting a losing battle

Strong and stable

Notwithstanding her popularity among voters, in recent weeks May has been mocked in the media for her repetition of the phrase “strong and stable leadership.”

This points to one of May’s weaknesses; she is often characterized as robotic and awkward, and has refused to take part in televised debates with other party leaders ahead of the election.

Read more: Rivals slam May’s plan to dodge televised debates

“She is held to be possibly humorless, rather severe, perhaps unflinching, but that is currently being presented as strength and stability,” says Matthew Cole, lecturer in history at Birmingham University. “At the moment these weaknesses are not seen as terribly important – and not as significant as being unable to lead one’s party, being unrealistic in policy and being inexperienced, which are Corbyn’s perceived weaknesses,” he told DW.

Read more: UK’s Labour shedding traditional voters

Outside political and media spheres, May’s reliance on sound bites does not appear to be damaging. “The message is tiring for us in Westminster, but as the Leave campaign showed during the referendum last year, and Trump demonstrated to great effect, a simple message can hold powerful salience when voters reach the ballot box,” Gaston told DW.

May’s traditionalist image may also be standing her in good stead. “She embodies values and attitudes which a big chunk of the country hold – she’s traditional, socially conservative, has a skepticism toward the EU, immigration, and has a provincial outlook, especially compared to [former Prime Minister David] Cameron and [former Finance Minister George] Osborne. That plays well with large swathes of the country,” says Oliver Patel, research associate at University College London’s European Institute.

Brexit means Brexit

The Conservatives’ manifesto pledges slashing immigration and drastic changes to social care. But until this point, the campaign has been noticeably slim on policy detail. “May has claimed she owns the mandate of the referendum, and that’s what makes her different from any previous prime minister going into an election,” says Cole.

Read more: Reports: British Prime Minister Theresa May plans migration curbs

Symbolbild Großbritannien Patriotismus Union Jack Einkaufstüte (Reuters/K. Coombs)Even those who voted for the UK to remain in the EU now want the prime minister to get on with it

Although the referendum on leaving the EU was very close, opinion polls indicate that now, a substantial proportion of those who voted Remain want to see the result honored. This means that the Liberal Democrat’s strategy of standing on an anti-Brexit platform is likely to be unsuccessful. “Most people just want to see her get on with it,” says Patel. “The Conservative strategy is not to focus on the two parties but the two leaders – not even on policy, but who do you want in number 10, who do you want negotiating Brexit.”

Of course, encouraging voters to make their decision based primarily on the personality of a leader carries risks – particularly if that person becomes toxic, as was seen in the case of both Thatcher and Blair. But given the weakness of the opposition and the size of the Conservative’s poll lead, this strategy seems likely to be effective in this election at least.

“It is almost impossible to imagine a scenario where the Tories do not win this election – the question is simply how large the prime minister’s mandate will be and whether the damage to Labour will be irreversible,” says Gaston.

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Battle with Brussels: Theresa May accuses EU of trying to influence general election (VIDEO)

In her toughest words yet, Prime Minister Theresa May has accused European officials of trying to influence the result of Britain’s general election with threats of harsh Brexit terms.

Speaking outside Downing Street on Wednesday, May adopted a tough tone, saying eurocrats do not want the talks to succeed and for Britain to “prosper” after Brexit. She also suggested that Britain’s negotiating position has been misrepresented in the European press.

“In the past few days we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be. Britain’s negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press.

“The European commission’s negotiating stance has hardened. Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election that will take place on June 8.”

She added: “The events of the last few days have shown that whatever our wishes and however reasonable the positions of Europe’s other leaders, there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed and who do not want Britain to prosper.”

She appeared to be referring to leaks in a German newspaper about her now infamous dinner meeting at Downing Street last week with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

According to Frankfurter Allgemeine, May and Juncker “clashed” over a number issues, with the eurocrat quoted as saying he was “10 times more skeptical than I was before.”

May initially dismissed the leaks as Brussels gossip, though reportedly said she could be a “bloody difficult woman.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said May is playing “games with Brexit in the hope of winning advantage for the Tories.”

“By winding up the public confrontation with Brussels, the Prime Minister wants to wrap the Conservative party in the Union Jack and distract attention from her government’s economic failure and rundown of our public services.

“But Brexit is too important to be used as a political game in this election.

“These are vital negotiations for every person in Britain and for the future of our country. But Theresa May is putting party interest ahead of the national interest.”

He added: “Only Labour can be trusted to negotiate a Brexit deal that puts jobs and living standards first. Labour will negotiate a Brexit for the many not the few.”

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has accused May of poisoning the atmosphere of the Brexit talks and called her speech “deeply irresponsible.”

Apologies for failing to thread those last tweets – here they are in one place.

Despite her defiant words outside Downing Street on Wednesday, May also insisted: “Britain means no harm to our friends and allies. We want a deep and special partnership with the EU, and we want the EU to succeed.”

I’ve always been ready for the possibility of nuclear war. I just never thought it would be with Belgium.

Britain’s economic future now a pawn in @theresa_may election game playing. Gross stuff

In a statement issued following a meeting the Queen to mark the dissolution of parliament, May said the winner of the election would face “one overriding task” – getting the “best possible deal” for the UK.

Beyond her unexpected verbal attack on unnamed figures in Brussels, May also used the opportunity to hit out at her political opponents in Britain.

“While there is enormous opportunity for Britain as we leave the European Union, if we do not get this right, the consequences will be serious.

“And they will be felt by ordinary, working people across the country. This Brexit negotiation is central to everything. If we don’t get the negotiation right, your economic security and prosperity will be put at risk and the opportunities you seek for your families will simply not happen.

“If we don’t get the negotiation right, if we let the bureaucrats of Brussels run over us, we will lose the chance to build a fairer society with real opportunity for all.”

She added that voters face a “very simple” choice on June 8 between her and a “coalition of chaos” led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“With me you will get a strong and stable leadership … or you will get Jeremy Corbyn with a hung parliament and a coalition of chaos.”

Her comments come after the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said talks would not be concluded “quickly and painlessly.”

Unveiling his first detailed vision of how talks with the UK will take shape in Brussels, Michel Barnier set down a series of tough EU demands on citizens’ rights and a hefty financial settlement he says is just about settling accounts.

He said Britain would have to honor its financial commitments and hinted that would entail paying for a number of EU programs, citing the example of aid pledges Brussels has made to Ukraine. He insisted the “divorce bill” was not a punishment for the UK leaving.

Barnier’s demands on the rights of citizens – which cover Europeans currently living in the UK but also those who have done so in the past and will in the future – are likely to cause serious issues for Prime Minister Theresa May, who has pledged to end freedom of movement.

Relations between the two sides have soured over the past few days.

On Tuesday, Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator, trolled May on Twitter over her “strong and stable” leadership.

Theresa May turns combative ahead of Brexit negotiations

Days after waxing lyrical about the “special relationship” between the UK and the EU, the British premier has hardened her tone. The change came after Angela Merkel said the UK was suffering illusions over its future.

Großbritannien Wahlkampf Theresa May (picture-alliance/dpa/PA Wire/A. Devlin)

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday accused European Union member states of lining up to oppose Britain ahead of the release of the EU’s negotiating position on Brexit.

“We’ve seen from Chancellor Merkel today, we’ve heard her comments today. We’ve seen that actually there will be times when these negotiations are going to get tough,” May was quoted as saying by the BBC while speaking at a campaign rally in the Labour stronghold of Leeds ahead of the snap general election she called for June.

“Our opponents are already seeking to disrupt those negotiations – at the same time as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us,” she said.

“That approach can only mean one thing – uncertainty and instability, bringing grave risk to our growing economy with higher taxes, fewer jobs, more waste and more debt,”

May’s combative comments came just days after dining with EU Brexit negotiators and saying the UK had a “commitment to achieving a deep and special partnership with the European Union.”

British illusions

May was responding to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s warning to the UK on Thursday against “illusions” over the exit process.

Merkel stressed in parliament that “a third-party state will not have the same rights or even superior rights to a member state,” referring to the relationship the EU has with non-EU countries such Switzerland and Norway.

“This may sound self-evident, but I have to say this clearly because some in Britain seem to have illusions on this point,” she said. “That would be a waste of time.”

Watch video00:25

Merkel’s statement on Brexit

EU presents unified front

EU ministers met in Luxembourg on Thursday to underscore their unity ahead of Saturday’s meeting to approve their negotiation position.

“It seems that at the moment we are completely united on everything,” said Vice Premier Louis Grech of Malta, the country that holds the rotating EU presidency. “Naturally we have to protect the EU’s interests.”

He said a prime objective was “to ensure that we will conduct the negotiations in a spirit of unity and trust between the 27.”

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that “we are united.”

Saturday’s EU’s guidelines will inform a tight negotiating mandate for Barnier which should be ready by May 22.

60 billion euro bill

The EU is expected to push on issues such as the treatment of EU expats, the bill of remaining costs to be paid by Britain and border issues in Ireland.

Some reports claim the EU could hold Britain liable for costs until at least a year after it leaves, at a possible cost of 60 billion euros (US$65 billion).

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson responded angrily to those claims.

“If you’re saying that they want the money before they get any substantive talks, then that is obviously not going to happen,” he told the BBC.

Northern Ireland

Ireland was expected to push for automatic membership of Northern Ireland to the EU if the two ever reunified.

German daily “Frankfurter Allgemeine” reported on Thursday that rental payments from the EU medicines agency in London could also become a sticking point in negotiations.  The lease agreement of the EU authority was reportedly signed until 2039, according to a document from the European Parliament, and could cost 347.6 million euros. Various EU members are seeking to be the new home of the institution.

Negotiations will likely start after Britain’s June 8 election, in which May is seeking to crush a weakened Labour party.

Watch video26:00

Nigel Farage on Conflict Zone

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Gibraltar minister: ‘Our rock will stay British’

The head of Gibraltar’s government has unequivocally stated that his territory will remain British despite Brexit. A recent EU proposal would give Spain a say in deciding Gibraltar’s fate once the UK leaves the bloc.

Watch video01:52

Brexit tensions simmer over Gibraltar

The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, wrote in an article for the “Daily Express” that Spain was attempting to “[manipulate] the European Council for its own, narrow political interests” and that this effort was being supported by the Council’s President, Donald Tusk.

After the Brexit vote, Spain reasserted its long-standing desire to see Spanish-British co-sovereignty in Gibraltar, with “the Rock” eventually becoming completely Spanish.

The article came the same day as a phone conversation between Picardo and British Prime Minister Theresa May. A statement following the call from Downing Street said the prime minister would “never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes.”

Rocky issue

Gibraltar is a rocky British outpost on the southern tip of Spain.

A proposal from the European Union envisions offering Spain a right to veto over Gibraltar’s future trade relations with the bloc.

Watch video04:03

Europe’s most famous rock

The veto would give Madrid sway over the fate of the enclave once Britain has left the bloc, meaning the status of its overseas territory is no longer an internal EU matter.

Spain ceded the rocky outpost – just eight miles across the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea from Morocco – a little more than 300 years ago, but has long sought to have it returned.

The power of a veto over trade relations between Gibraltar and the EU would put Spain in a powerful position concerning the strategically important outpost.

Stoney resolve

In 2002 voters in Gibraltar rejected the idea of Britain sharing sovereignty with Spain by 99 percent to 1 percent. But the predominantly British population overwhelmingly backed remaining in the EU in last June’s Brexit referendum.

Picardo mentioned this in his article, stating Spain’s stance was “predictable” and “one of the concerns we had about the UK leaving when we voted 96 percent to remain in the EU.”

Now that Brexit has occured, Picardo referred to the “rock-like support for Gibraltar” of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and “the UK’s commitment to our right to remain British.”

Good to speak to Chief Minister @FabianPicardo. As ever, the UK remains implacable & rock-like in our support for Gibraltar

“It is time to see that commitment translated into action,” Picardo wrote.

Parallel to Falklands?

One British politician appeared quite eager to take action on Sunday in an interview with Britain’s Sky News.

Michael Howard – a former head of Britain’s conservative party, and cabinet member under Tory Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major – brought up Britain’s decision to go to war with Argentina after that country’s military junta seized the Falkland Islands.

That occurred on April 2, 1982. Three days later, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dispatched a naval force to take back the territory. Argentina surrendered on June 14.

“Thirty-five years ago this week another woman prime minister sent a task force half way across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish speaking country,” Howard said on Sky News, “and I’m absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar.”

Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said on Monday that “the Spanish government is a little surprised by the tone of comments coming out of Britain, a country known for its composure.”

In an interview on Sunday, he said he viewed the EU’s stance positively.

mz/msh (Reuters, dpa)

 

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