LONDON: Adding to her EU divorce dramas, Prime Minister Theresa May is on a landmark visit to Argentina for the G20 summit where her hosts are using Brexit to advance their claim on Britain’s Falkland Islands.
May arrived late Thursday on the first visit by a British premier to the Argentine capital since the 1982 Falklands War between the two countries in what is being seen in Buenos Aires as a chance to improve ties.
However, the 3,400 Falkland Islanders insist their British sovereignty remains non-negotiable and say a proper thaw in their relations with Argentina remains distant.
They have reason to be worried about Brexit: if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, the Falklands’ economy — heavily reliant on tariff-free squid exports to EU member Spain – could face a hammer blow.
Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie made waves last month, saying Buenos Aires would exploit Brexit to enhance its diplomatic push for the Falklands.
Britain’s sovereignty claim to the islands, known in the Spanish-speaking world as the Malvinas, dates back to 1765 and it has held permanent administration since 1833.
Buenos Aires claims the barren, windswept islands, 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the Argentine coast, are occupied Argentine territory.
Argentina’s then-ruling military junta invaded on April 2, 1982 but surrendered on June 14 to a British task force after a brief but intense and bloody war.