I would like to update the House on the Government’s response to the Falkland Islands referendum on their political status as a British overseas territory.
On 10 and 11 March 2013, the Falkland islanders voted overwhelmingly to maintain their current constitutional arrangements with the United Kingdom. The result is a clear democratic expression of the islanders’ wishes and was conducted in a free, fair and transparent way.
We believe that the result should be recognised by the whole international community as a definitive act of self-determination. It has sent the clearest possible message to the Argentine Government that their demands to control the Falkland Islands against the wishes of the people who live there are fundamentally incompatible with modern democratic values. Attempts to intimidate the islanders must cease.
Representatives of the Falkland Islands Government will travel widely in the coming weeks to convey the result around Latin America and elsewhere. More broadly, the Government will continue to strengthen our engagement with Latin America, as I set out in my Canning House speech in November 2010. The UK has considerable interests in the region, with high potential for future economic growth. I am confident that this increased co-operation and partnership with the countries of Latin America is consistent with our desire to ensure that the interests and wishes of the Falkland islanders are respected and protected.