UK considers Spain legal action

The Government is "carefully considering" the possibility of legal action against Spain over the imposition of additional border checks on Gibraltar.

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HMS Illustrious sails from Portsmouth today

Ship leaves Portsmouth
HMS Illustrious passes the Round Tower in Portsmouth as it leaves the country Credit: Royal Navy

A Royal Navy ship has sailed from Portsmouth today as part of an annual deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf region.

The long-planned Cougar '13 deployment will see the naval force hone its world-class maritime skills through exercises with key allies.

naval ship
The ship has left Portsmouth as she heads for the Mediterranean Credit: Royal Navy

This is the first time the deployment has taken place with its aim to demonstrate the ability to operate a highly effective maritime force anywhere in the world to protect UK interests.

HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious sets sail from Portsmouth today Credit: Royal Navy

Captain Mike Utley, Commanding Officer HMS Illustrious, said: "I am immensely proud of my ship and what has been achieved by everyone on board, in Portsmouth Naval Base and further afield, to get HMS Illustrious and all our embedded capabilities ready to employ today."

People waving off ship
People at Portsmouth seafront wave off the naval ship Credit: Royal Navy

Spain stands firm on enforcing Gibraltar border controls

Spain has said it will not back down on implementing tighter controls at its border with Gibraltar after Britain announced it is considering legal action against the nation in the escalating row.

"The controls are not a right, they are an obligation," a spokesman for the Spanish foreign minister told the Reuters news agency.

He said the Spanish government believed the controls were legal and proportionate in order to stop money laundering and smuggling.

Read: Why Gibraltar is such a rocky point with Spain

Spain 'considering raising Gibraltar issue internationally'

Spain has proven so far unwilling to drop its controversial Gibraltar border controls. Credit: REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Spain is considering the possibility of raising the matter of Gibraltar with other nations, according to Spanish media reports.

Newspaper El Pais, quoting diplomatic sources, said the dispute may be put on the agenda by Spanish officials at the United Nation's General Assembly or the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

The European Commission is already understood to be due to send a team of monitors to the border between Spain and Gibraltar border in September amid the sovereignty row.

Read: Why Gibraltar is such a rocky point with Spain

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Boris Johnson hits out at Spain for 'choking' Gibraltar

London mayor Boris Johnson has said the deployment of a British naval task force to the Mediterranean should send a clear signal to Spain, while accusing Madrid of reverting to the blockade tactics of the Franco era.

Perhaps it really is a coincidence - as the Foreign Office claims - that we have just sent a fleet of warships to Gibraltar.

Maybe it's just a fluke that HMS Illustrious is about to bristle into view on the southern coast of Spain, complete with thousands of Royal Marines and other elite commando units.

But I hope not. I hope that one way or another we will shortly prise Spanish hands off the throat of our colony, because what is now taking place is infamous.

– Boris Johnson, writing in the Daily Telegraph

PM considers Gibraltar checks 'totally disproportionate'

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman has confirmed Britain is "seriously considering" taking legal action against Spain over extra checks at the border with Gibraltar.

The spokesman said the tighter checks by Spanish officials, which are causing long delays, are "politically motivated and totally disproportionate".

Read: Why Gibraltar is such a rocky point with Spain

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