England’s centuries old alliance with Portugal is historically the longest running alliance in the World going back to the Treaty of Windsor in 1386. It predates England’s Act of Union with Scotland in 1711. “I hope that Britain’s relations with Portugal will not be damaged by Brexit,” said Doug Henderson the former UK Minister for Europe under former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom I spoke to in Brussels this week.
There have been many events in Brussels about Brexit recently, including outreach by the newly established UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Brexpats. The All Party Group held its first meeting in Westminster last week and is due to officially launch on 13 September this year, with Hilary Benn MP as the keynote speaker.
The aim of the All Party Group is to bring together the 1.2 million British expats living in the other 27 EU Member States, and the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK to address their concerns about issues which will affect them during the Brexit negotiations and after their conclusion. The Group comprises UK Parliamentary members from both the UK House of Commons and the House of Lords from all parties. The Chairmanship is shared between Conservative Nigel Evans MP and Labour Baroness Prosser OBE.
An All Party Parliamentary Group in Westminster is rather like an “InterGroup” in the European Parliament and has considerable influence.
The Secretariat of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Brexpats is run by ex Sunday Times political Editor David Cracknell and Westminster-based Public Affairs consultant Jane Bowles. who was in Brussels this week consulting stakeholders about the need to provide evidence and opinions to the Group.
When I spoke to her she said, “The objective of the Group, post the UK’s triggering of Article 50, is to secure the best deal to defend the rights of all EU citizens not domiciled in their own country of origin.”
It is not the objective of the Group to reverse the status quo or to seek a second referendum.
“We are keen to interact with communities directly affected to provide evidence and opinions to the All Party Group enabling the UK parliament a 360 degree perspective to take a considered and informed decision on matters when they are consulted on the conclusions of the EU-UK negotiations,” she went on to say.
Jane and David can be contacted by anyone interested in the activities of the Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There have been exchanges of people between UK & Portugal ever since the Treaty of Windsor in 1386 which also established certain rights for resident English traders in Portugal, most notably those involved in the trade of fine Port and Madeira wines, like Cockburn’s and Dow.
“I grew up in Portugal before either country was in the EU and I know that the Portuguese government has always welcomed self sufficient British citizens to live there,” says British MEP Charles Tannock. “I am hopeful a deal will be struck during phase one of the UK-EU27 Brexit negotiations to guarantee the existing rights of all current residents across the EU including some 400 000 Portuguese citizens living in UK and some 30 000 British citizens living in Portugal. If the rights are not guaranteed I cannot see the European Parliament giving its assent to the finalised withdrawal agreement in 2018.”
Christina Hippisley, Secretary General of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, says, “We are hopeful that negotiations will protect both British nationals resident in Portugal and the 400,000 Portuguese already resident in the UK. The UK remains Portugal’s fourth biggest export market for goods and services, after Spain, France and Germany, and we are also talking daily to British individuals keen to live and work in Portugal, who want to make the move in the next 18 months.”