The Falkland Islands Vote to Remain British
Last night the people of the Falkland Islands held their first referendum on whether or not to remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. In a completely free and fair ballot there was a huge 92% turnout of the 1,650 eligible voters. 1,513 voted to remain British, with only 3 voting no. That is 99.8% in favour and just 0.02% voting against.
Now the bullying Argentine President should back off and stop demanding that the islanders hand themselves over to their larger neighbour. In 1982 Argentina turned its threats into military action when it invaded the islands and Britain sent a huge task force to recover the islands with loss of life on both sides. Prime Minister David Cameron has pledge to support the islanders in their wish to remain British and this vote will give the UK a clear mandate in World forums.
Apart from the brief Argentinian occupation in 1982 the islands have been in British hands since 1833 and the majority of their residents are of British descent, with a small number of South American and other origin. There is a significant British military presence on the islands to deter further Argentine military adventure and I was thrilled to spend six months based on the islands in 1994.
Around the size of Wales, they have a fantastic wildlife presence with vast colonies of penguins and seals, and some rare birds. The islands are rich fishing grounds and earn a significant income from fishing licences in addition to the more traditional sheep farming revenue. There are bright prospects for oil finds around the islands and initial tests have proved positive but problematic. It is interesting that Argentina’s rhetoric has only ramped up in recent years since oil exploration began.
I am thrilled that the Falkland Islanders have voted so overwhelmingly to remain British and I hope that one day I will be able to get back there again.