Britain prepared to defend the Falklands 'forever' insists Cameron despite Argentina president's claims over the islands

20 February 2024, 10:16

David Cameron is the first foreign secretary to visit the islands for 30 years
David Cameron is the first foreign secretary to visit the islands for 30 years. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

David Cameron has vowed Britain will defend the Falkland Islands "for as long as they want" as he became the first foreign secretary to visit them for 30 years.

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The Tory peer toured the South Atlantic territory by helicopter, taking in the famous battlegrounds of San Carlos and Goose Green.

He said they will remain British for as long as they choose to as he poured cold water on suggestions by Argentina's firebrand president Javier Milei, who suggested there could be negotiations on their sovereignty.

During a stop in Stanley, the capital, Lord Cameron said: "Let me be absolutely clear - as far as we are concerned, as long as the Falkland Islands want to be part of the UK family, they are absolutely welcome to be part of that family, and we will support them and back them and help protect and defend them, absolutely, as far as I’m concerned, for as long as they want.

"And I hope that's for a very, very long time, possibly forever."

Read more: Falklands sovereignty ‘not up for discussion' David Cameron says ahead of visit next week

David Cameron has visited the Falklands
David Cameron has visited the Falklands. Picture: Alamy

His tour took him to San Carlos, where three British ships were sunk during the 1982 war.

He laid a wreath at war graves including the hero Lt Col Herbert Jones, who was killed at Goose Green.

The last foreign secretary to travel to the islands was Lord Hurd in 1994. Sir Michael Fallon was the last cabinet minister to go on the 8,000 mile journey, when he was defence secretary in 2016.

Argentina claims the islands and launched the war under a junta, leading to the deaths of 255 British military personnel and 649 Argentinians.

The islanders have repeatedly voted to remain as a British overseas territory.

Read more: 'We agree to disagree': Britain rebuffs Argentina after claims discussions have begun over Falkland Islands

David Cameron has said Britain will always defend the Falklands
David Cameron has said Britain will always defend the Falklands. Picture: Alamy

Mr Milei, who hopes to put Argentina's ailing economy into radical shock-therapy, has previously said his country should be able to rule them.

It remains a massive topic in the country and a cause any politician hoping to get elected would need to back.

But he has ruled out any return to the war that broke out and caused do many deaths.

"We had a war – that we lost – and now we have to make every effort to recover the islands through diplomatic channels," he said in an election debate last year.

Mr Milei, a supporter of free market and right-wing economics, is actually a fan of Margaret Thatcher - who made the decision to retake the islands by force.