FALKLANDS War veteran Simon Weston believes making the remote archipelago in the South Atlantic a full member of the UK, and granting it representation in Westminster, would once and for all draw a line under Argentina’s push for sovereignty over the British overseas territory.
Former Welsh Guardsman Simon, 58, who suffered terrible injuries during the 1982 conflict, retains close links with the tight-knit community – and said a move to make the Falklands fully British, floated by among others Tory MPs John Penrose and Andrew Rosindell, would solve a number of problems. He told Express.co.uk: “If that is the people of the island’s wish, then it takes away any ambiguity about decision making, about whether the islands remain British. “It stops any future Government from coming in and saying we’ll give it over to the Argentinians.
“If that’s what it takes to secure their futures, then I would support it.
“But I would support the islanders on any decision they make – if their decision is to become Argentinian then I would support that.
“Because it’s their right to self-determination and democracy to exercise, not something to dictate.”
In 1982, the country’s then-leader General Leopoldo Galtieri ordered an invasion, prompting Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to send a task force to the South Atlantic.
After a 10-week war, the islands were liberated – but not before the ship on which Simon was serving, RFA Sir Galahad, was bombed by Argentinian jets, with him suffering third-degree burns to almost half his body.
His inspiring recovery, which saw him awarded both an OBE and a CBE, has seen him become a popular national celebrity.
However, he has never forgotten the Falklands, and has returned there nine times since the war.
Simon said: “If the islanders do decide that they want to have an MP and if they do decide that they want to get involved with British politics, be more in line with the financial aspects of being in the UK then it may work for Britain anyway.
“Because having the territory there, it means that we’ve got a staging post for the rest of the world and to be able to move cargo and everything else, which would help the islanders massively again.
“I’m sure there are huge implications but I can only imagine they would be positive.”
Sovereignty of the Falklands, which became a Crown colony in 1840, has been in dispute for centuries, with Argentina maintaining its historical claim to the islands they refer to as the Malvinas.
Speaking to Express.co.uk last month, Mr Penrose outlined his proposal for legislation which would make all 14 British overseas territories members of the UK, with their own MPs.
He added: “It creates an opportunity for them to access the UK’s internal market, that’s potentially, I would hope, useful and valuable in a post-Brexit world, both for the UK, but also for the individual overseas territories.
“But also it means that if they are going to be involved in that way then they may decide they want some democratic representation along with us, and I think that’s only fair and right.
“My proposal is that each of the territories would then become a sort of stand-alone part of the United Kingdom in the same way as Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and so each one would have the same democratic status as the four democratic parts of the United Kingdom.
“They would all have their own devolution deal and they would all have their own local Parliaments and assemblies but those would be sort of formalised, and then they would send MPs to Westminster to sit and complete the deal and make sure they have got that voice when the rubber hits the road next year.”
Mr Penrose stressed ultimately the decision would lie with the territories themselves – including the Falkland Islander, adding: “Each of them are going to have to make their own decisions based on what their particular situation is and some of them may decide ‘no, it’s not right for us now or ever,’ and some of them may decide ‘it’s a great idea, let’s do it tomorrow’.
However, he said: “The whole point of this is self determination and if we make the generous open-handed offer and put it on the table, they can pick it up now if they want to and we can leave it open.”
Speaking during a reception at Falklands House last month, Richard Hyslop, the UK Representative of the Falkland Islands Government, told Express.co.uk: “This issue comes up quite a lot.
“There are members of Parliament who would, with the best of intentions, like to offer the islanders things like dedicated members of Parliament, like they’ve got in French overseas territories.
“They are literally part of France. We are very proud of the fact that we are in the UK family but we are also very proud of the fact that we are a self-governing nation, raise our own taxes, elect our own members of our assembly and that we decide our matters in the interests of our Islanders, from everything from defence and foreign affairs.
“But also at the moment, if ever there is an issue with the Falkland Islands, we can go to 650 members of Parliament.
“If we had our own MP, that would decrease our representation from 650 to one.”