‘Stupid’ Cameron blasted over Falklands

By Alex Stevenson

David Cameron's comments that Britain will keep the Falkland Islands have been dismissed as "mediocrity bordering on stupidity" by Argentina's president.

Cristina Fernandez Kerchner, who is running for a second term in power in elections this September, was responding to Mr Cameron's firm stance on the Falklands in prime minister's questions this week.

Calling the UK prime minister "arrogant", she said: "In the 21st century, Britain continues to be a crass colonial power in decline because colonialism is outdated and unjust.

"It's ridiculous to hold sovereignty of something that's 14,000 kilometres away."

Tuesday saw the 29th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands from Argentinean forces following a two-month conflict in which 258 British service personnel died. Argentina has claimed sovereignty over the archipelago, which it calls the Malvinas, since the 19th century.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell had sought Mr Cameron's assurance that "negotiations over the Falkland Islands with Argentina will never be acceptable to Her Majesty's government".

Mr Cameron replied: "As long as the Falkland Islands want to be sovereign British territory, they should remain sovereign British territory—full stop, end of story."

Former PM Margaret Thatcher won huge political support after she committed Britain to retake the Falkland Islands in 1982.

Defence cuts nearly three decades later have led to concerns that Mr Cameron may not have the option to repeat the defence now.

Admiral Sandy Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper: "The simple truth is without aircraft carriers and without the Americans we would not have any hope of doing the same again today."

His comments followed a warning last November by five former admirals that Argentina had been "practically invited" to invade the Falklands.

"In respect of the newly valuable Falklands and their oilfields, because of these and other cuts, for the next ten years at least, Argentina is practically invited to attempt to inflict on us a national humiliation on the scale of the loss of Singapore," they wrote.

"One from which British prestige, let alone the administration in power at the time, might never recover."

The Ministry of Defence insists that Britain maintains a "wide range of assets" including a well-defended airfield to ensure the islands' defence, however.

Fears are increasing about a further round of spending cuts hitting the defence budget, however.

The 2011/12 financial planning round, expected to be decided this autumn, could see cutbacks in the number of military helicopters, the Telegraph reports.

Defence industry executives are becoming concerned the cuts could hit a number of contracts, including one for 12 new Chinooks and another upgrading 30 Puma medium transport helicopters.