Nik Darlington 2.25pm
The Falkland Islands government has announced that it will hold a referendum in early 2013 on its “political status”.
The surprise move came during a recent visit to the islands by the Foreign Office minister, Jeremy Browne. His FCO colleague, David Lidington, has made a statement on the issue to the House of Commons today, in which he said:
This decision, which was one taken by the Falkland Islanders themselves through their elected representatives, has the full support of the British Government.
The referendum will be organised by the Falkland Island Government and will take place in the first half of 2013. Independent, international observers will be invited to observe the process. […]
The Argentine Ambassador to the UK has claimed that the Islanders would be quite happy living under Argentine rule, on the basis that some of them have been on holidays to Argentina. The Islanders regularly rebut these baseless allegations…
This [referendum] will provide a legal, fair and decisive means for the people of the Falkland Islands to express their views. […]
While the Argentine Government offers threats and misleading rhetoric, the Islanders have responded with dignity and determination. […]
I hope that Argentina, and indeed all in the international community, will take note of the Islanders’ views.
Tomorrow, 14th June, is the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands by British forces. During the two-month conflict, 649 Argentines and 258 British troops lost their lives, with many hundreds more wounded.
Follow Nik on Twitter @NikDarlington