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Spain denies ship made illegal incursion off Gibraltar

Picardo gestures as he delivers his speech at Casemates square during the Gibraltar National Day celebrations in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar

"Judicially speaking Gibraltar will exit the Union at the same time as the United Kingdom, that is all I can say".

Tuesday's was the seventh incursion by a Spanish navy ship this year, according to Gibraltar's government.

It tweeted: "Illegal incursion into #British #Gibraltar Territorial Waters by Spanish Navy patrol ship Infanta Cristina this afternoon".

THE UK won't enter new agreements with the European Union if the Spanish government try to exclude Gibraltar.

Gibraltar - commonly called simply "The Rock" - is a tiny, rocky enclave, hanging off Spain's southern coast at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea and is home to 32,000 people. It has been administered by the United Kingdom ever since 1704, and a treaty in 1713 ceded Gibraltar to the United Kingdom "in perpetuity".

This prompted Lord Howard to say he believed Mrs May would defend the Rock as Margaret Thatcher did the Falklands.

But speaking Monday, May played down those comments, telling reporters, "What we are doing, with all European Union countries in the European Union, is sitting down and talking to them".

Although there was no reference to Spain's claim to sovereignty in the Brexit negotiating guidelines released by European Council president Donald Tusk last week, the decision to give Madrid a specific role in deciding if a trade deal will apply to the Rock caused deep unease in Westminster.

Talk of the war followed the EU's declaration that Madrid would have a veto on the inclusion of Gibraltar in any post-Brexit trade deal.

However, Downing Street also said Monday that they will not be sending a task force to Gibraltar.

On Howard's comments, the spokesman said what Howard "was trying to establish was the resolve that we will have to protect the rights of Gibraltar and its sovereignty". With a population of 33 thousand inhabitants, Gibraltar was conqjered by the United Kingdom during the Spanish Succession War (17601-1713) and since then, has generated continuous tension between both countries.

"Gibraltar's sovereignty has not changed, it will not change, and can not change without the consent of the people of Gibraltar and the UK". In a 2002 referendum, 99 per cent of the populace voted against the idea of Britain and Spain sharing sovereignty over the territory.

Last November, in response to a question from Conservative peer Lord Patten in the House of Lords, the British government said there had been 434 incursions by Spanish state vessels into Gibraltar waters in the 12 months to October 31, 2016, the most recent data available.