Lieutenant General Sir James Dutton appointed Governor of Gibraltar

{cough} I called it back in July. {cough}

Gibraltar post for former Marine chief

Lieutenant General Sir James Dutton, leader of British forces in Afghanistan, will be new governor of disputed territory

Spain has ordered customs officers to go slow at the ­border with Gibraltar, causing delays lasting several hours. Photograph: Marcos Moreno/AFP/Getty Images

Britain is sending a former Royal Marine commander to be the Queen’s representative in Gibraltar amid continuing tensions between London and Madrid over the future of the overseas territory.

The Foreign Office announced on Thursday that Lieutenant General Sir James Dutton, who led British forces in Afghanistan, will be the new governor of the disputed territory. It said the move was planned “long ago, well in advance of any of the current difficulties we are experiencing”.

“I am delighted and honoured to be going to Gibraltar, especially given its historical connections with the Royal Marines,” he said.

“I hope that my many years of military experience combined now with three years of commercial experience will equip me well to deliver the governor’s role and responsibilities toward Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.”

Spanish fishermen have been protesting against an artificial reef, dumped by Gibraltar in disputed waters, which has prevented them dredging for scallops and other shellfish.

Spain ordered Spanish customs officers to go slow at the border, causing delays lasting several hours. Ministers in Madrid have also threatened to prevent Gibraltar-bound planes from entering Spain’s airspace and to investigate the tax arrangements of thousands of Gibraltarians with homes in Spain.

Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, compared Spanish tactics to the behaviour of General Franco, North Korea and Argentina in the runup to the Falklands war.

The role of governor is largely ceremonial given that the 30,000-stong territory has its own elected government, but in an unusual intervention, Dutton’s predecessor, Sir Adrian Johns, last month accused Spain of a “serious violation of British sovereignty”.

Madrid sent divers to photograph the reef and placed Spanish flags on it in a move that was “unhelpful” when the UK was seeking to ease tensions, said Johns.

The decision to send the retired commandant general of the marines to the Rock comes after Francisco Javier Pérez Trigueros, the mayor of Callosa de Segura municipality in Valencia, circulated a collage of a formation of Spanish fighter jets trailing red and yellow smoke over Gibraltar and a battalion of saluting Spanish soldiers marching in formation with machine-guns towards the enclave on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsular.

Gibraltar has also accused Spain of breaching human rights rules by causing residents to queue for up to seven hours to cross the border and European Commission officials are to visit the border between Spain and Gibraltar next week to assess the legality of checks on traffic that have exacerbated the row with Britain.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/19/gibraltar-governor-marine-chief

Royal Navy hard-pressed to defend Gibraltar

The Royal Navy, stretched thin by budget cuts, ship decommissioning, delayed replacement vessels, and increased operational demands, would be hard-pressed to deploy significant assets to Gibraltar.

Navy ‘can’t do a lot’ about Gibraltar

Defence cuts mean the Royal Navy would struggle to send warships to Gibraltar amid tensions with Spain over the Rock, it was claimed today.

The warning comes amid a dispute with Madrid over Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

Relations between the British territory and Spain have deteriorated in recent months in a row over fishing grounds, with Spanish ministers raising the prospect of imposing a £43 levy on vehicles crossing the border and the possibility of closing airspace.

Mike Critchley, a former naval officer and book publisher from Gosport, told The News: ‘In times past the navy would have had a presence down there, but now the navy is tremendously reduced.

‘The navy can’t meet all its commitments.

‘Ships do go there, submarines go there, and there are some small patrol vessels.

‘But it is a difficult situation, we’re talking about two NATO countries, two EU countries, so obviously the government is just going to be watching what happens at the moment.

‘The navy can’t do a lot about it. This has been going on for a while Someone has got to bang heads together.’

The government has insisted there will be no compromise over the sovereignty of Gibraltar, and foreign secretary William Hague has vowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with its citizens in response to heightened pressure and increasingly belligerent rhetoric from Madrid.

Last night, Mr Hague reiterated the UK’s commitment to the people of Gibraltar after speaking to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo.

He said: ‘I emphasised to Gibraltar’s elected Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, that the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Gibraltar at this time of increasing Spanish pressure and rhetoric.

‘I also highlighted that we will respect Gibraltar’s 2006 Constitution and the commitments the UK has repeatedly made not to compromise on British sovereignty over Gibraltar.

‘We discussed the need for a political solution to the current tension with Spain, which would be firmly in the interests of communities on both sides of Gibraltar’s border with Spain.

‘I call upon Spain to respect the agreements made at Cordoba and to avoid actions which could increase tension further.

‘We agreed that it was important to respond to actions, not rhetoric, and I confirmed that we would continue to raise our concerns with Spain.’

http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/defence/navy-can-t-do-a-lot-about-gibraltar-1-5358162

What price a guard ship?