British ex-pats STUCK in Portugal feel 'deliberately' hung out to dry

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British citizens in Portugal were guaranteed protection for their social and employment rights within the country as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. However, the Portuguese government has yet to provide the 34,500 Brits with the biometric residency cards they need to have their rights protected. As a result, British residents are left unable to access healthcare, change jobs, or travel in and out of the country – prompting widespread criticism of the government’s failure to provide the necessary paperwork.

Tig James, co-president of the British in Portugal Association told the Telegraph that Portugal is “wilfully, deliberately and systemically not adhering to the withdrawal agreement”.

She added: “People are being stopped by border guards in every single country, their papers taken off them and being thrown to the floor, because they are simply not the Withdrawal Agreement biometric ID that was promised.”

The Portuguese government has issued temporary documents and QR codes to the British residents there.

However, Britons report these are not recognised locally or at international borders.

People have been left detained at airports, paying to have broken bones treated or risked losing their jobs due to the delays in the crucial biometric card that proves their legal status.

James Campbell, a computer programmer living in Portugal, told the Guardian: “I am feeling more like an illegal immigrant at the moment.”

He went on to list 25 things that had happened to him because of the lack of documentation, including a £4,000 private hospital bill for a broken limb because he could not access state healthcare.

Mr Campbell added to the Telegraph: “There is nowhere to call for help, no helpline. Once you have fallen down a crack, you are basically stuck.”

READ MORE: Leftie Remoaner mocks Brexiteers over ID chaos [REVEAL]

Meanwhile, a British-South-African couple living just outside Lisbon told how they were detained in Frankfurt airport without correct post-Brexit residency documentation. The couple are now being accused of criminal breach of immigration laws as well as a near €4,000 (£3,375) bill for new flights to get back to Portugal.

The Portuguese Immigration and Border Service (SEF) has insisted that the QR code ID is a valid travel document. A spokesperson for SEF said the QR code “allows [UK residents] to travel, serves as proof of their residence in Portugal and guarantees access to public health and social services”.

A spokesperson for the UK Government said it had raised the issue with the Portuguese government and is pushing for a quick resolution of this issue.

They said in a statement: “Portugal must immediately and fully implement the Withdrawal Agreement commitments it signed up to in 2018 so UK nationals have the security they need.”

Next year will mark the 650th anniversary of the signing of the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty, originally signed in 1373. This established “perpetual friendships, unions [and] alliances” between the two nations and is the world’s oldest continuous treaty in effect to this day.



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