Wed Apr 5, 2017 7:46AM
The Spanish vessel Infanta Cristina was chased out of British territorial waters off Gibraltar. (HM Government of Gibraltar/PA)
The Spanish vessel Infanta Cristina was chased out of British territorial waters off Gibraltar. (HM Government of Gibraltar/PA)

A British Royal Navy patrol boat chased a Spanish warship out of Gibraltar’s territorial waters in the latest spat between the UK and Spain over the disputed enclave’s future after Brexit.

The face-off occurred Tuesday just hours after Spain advised Britain to “calm down” as tensions continued to rise between the two countries.

The British Foreign Office defended the decision to order the Spanish vessel, Infanta Cristina, out of Gibraltar’s waters, describing the incident as an unlawful maritime incursion.

“The Royal Navy challenges all unlawful maritime incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters – and did so again on this occasion,” an FCO spokesperson stated.

A short video of the incident was posted on Gibraltar’s official Twitter page.

Gibraltar is a strategic British territory located at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern tip of Spain’s Iberian Peninsula with an area of 6.7 square kilometers.

The territory was ceded to Britain in 1713 as part of the Treaty of Utrecht. However, Spain does not recognize the waters as sovereign British overseas territory and has made it clear that it wants the enclave back.

Spain frequently sends ships to patrol Gibraltar's waters, but the enclave’s role in the Brexit negotiations added a sense of urgency to the latest confrontation.

The incident came days after former Conservative leader Michael Howard suggested the UK government should be prepared to go to war to protect the overseas territory.

This file photo taken on March 17, 2016 shows the Rock of Gibraltar with Spain in background. (Via AFP)

Tensions heightened after the European Union declared that Spain would have a veto on the inclusion of Gibraltar in any post-Brexit trade agreement with Britain.

After Britain’s exit from the EU, Madrid believes Gibraltarians may choose to rejoin Spain to remain connected to the bloc.

London has insisted that Gibraltar is “not for sale,” vowing it would protect the overseas territory after Brexit.