Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss has said Spain's stance on Gibraltar is "sad" and promised to defend the territory "appropriately."
The retired judge, now chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Gibraltar, spoke to talkRADIO as the dispute over the peninsula continues to simmer. Over the weekend an EU document stated that any UK withdrawal agreements regarding Gibraltar would have to have the consent of Spain, prompting condemnation from Gibraltar's chief minister Fabian Picardo.
Former Tory leader Michael Howard has suggested Britain will go to war if necessary to defend its control of Gibraltar. Spain's foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, has said he is "surprised" by Britain's stance and suggested "the traditional British composure is slightly conspicuous by its absence."
In an interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer, Baroness Butler-Sloss said a discussion on Gibraltar was unavoidable, but it didn't need to be made an "upfront" issue.
She said: "Spain is actually a good friend of ours on every issue except for Gibraltar, and the country has clearly been lobbying the EU.
"We can’t avoid some discussion because Gibraltar has a border with Spain, but I think it's sad Spain has raised the ante on this.
"At some stage, there’ll have to be a negotiation between the island and spain, but it’s certainly not upfront, so this is entirely unhelpful.
"It’s important to make the point that Gibraltar is British sovereign territory and we must defend it appropriately."