Britain has plans in place to rush armed forces to the South Atlantic if ever it felt the Falkland Islands were under threat, MPs in London have been told.
But it must be ‘prepared and capable’ to defend the islands without the help of other nations, said Defence Secretary Philip Hammond in the House of Commons on Monday.
He was commenting on revived tensions between Argentina and the UK, following claims in Buenos Aires about ‘increased militarisation’ of the islands.
‘Despite media speculation to the contrary, there has been no recent change to force levels,’ said Mr Hammond – quoted in The Daily Telegraph. ‘There is no evidence of any current credible military threat to the security of the Falkland Islands and therefore no current plan for significant changes to force deployments.
‘However, Her Majesty’s Government is committed to defending the right of the Falkland islanders to self-determination, and plans exist for rapid reinforcement of the land, sea and air forces in and around the islands, should any such threat appear.’
The Mirror picks up on Mr Hammond’s line that Britain must be prepared to stand alone in defence of the islands. It says he told MPs he hoped other countries would give support, but that ‘cannot be our planning scenario’.