He famously wrote two columns for The Telegraph, one for and one against Brexit. He was challenged on the eve of the polling day by BBC Newsnight and said “"I'll tell you what the second article said. What it said was that, actually, irrespective of my objectives to the way the EU was going, in order to support my party and the Prime Minister it would be better to stay in. In the end that wasn't a good enough reason."
You might speculate that the real reason was that Boris was looking for the best opportunities for himself. His only commitment was to his own political career. He opted for Brexit, and the UK was then barraged with claims that can be most kindly described as ‘unsubstantiated’.
Brexit not good for expats
For expats living in Portugal, it’s pretty close to an unmitigated disaster. Getting anything by post from the UK is almost impossible. Probably on the EU’s instructions, CTT will delay or even return most things from the UK. The occasional letter gets through. The same can be said for most UK products. The EU is a ‘closed shop’.
And then we had traffic lights
Nobody should need to be reminded about the chaos the so called ‘traffic light’ system caused to Portugal. Some may say that Boris wasn’t responsible, it was the transport minister. All I can say to that is that Boris is NEVER responsible for anything that doesn’t go well. It is widely felt that Portugal was treated very badly by this system. Covid-19 control was as well, if not better, controlled here than in other countries that were given the green light. Thousands of The Portugal News readers signed a petition to the UK Government and their MP’s protesting over the unfair treatment of Portugal. Some MP’s replied, agreeing that Portugal was not being treated fairly. It didn’t make any difference.
Portugal’s tourism industry was extensively damaged by a policy that Boris allowed to continue. Bloomberg reported at the time ‘The UK removed Portugal from its so-called green list of countries that can be easily visited, dealing a body blow to an airline industry crying out for a reopening of European travel’.
Elidérico Veigas, president of the Algarve Hotel and Resort Association, told the SIC Notícias news channel. “It’s profoundly unfair, because the Algarve has a very low infection rate, it throws into doubt our chances for a good summer,” “Even if the measure is reversed in three weeks, as I expect, it will lead to lots of cancellations." It did.
Brexit hit UK visitors
With the UK leaving the EU, the European Union wanted ‘revenge’. The last thing they wanted would be for another EU country to follow in the UK’s footsteps. There was little they could do to stop people travelling from a non EU country to a EU country, but they did everything they could to make it complicated and difficult. There was even talk of a need for a visa, which fortunately got nowhere. But restrictions were introduced, including a 90 days rule.
It must be said that Portugal did, and is, doing everything possible to help UK visitors to enter without problems or delays, including recently going against the EU in re opening the digital e-passport readers at Portuguese airports for UK passport holders. Sadly, they don’t always work, but it has been a great help. Portugal was the first country to scrap the EU’s Brexit rules, though other countries that have high travel numbers from the UK may follow suit.
What does Boris HQ say?
Ten Downing Street released this statement last month (June). “As we approach the 650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty signed at Tagilde, we celebrate the deep historical connections that bind our two countries, noting that we have long enjoyed excellent bilateral relations and that our alliance – the oldest continuous alliance in the world – has underpinned these relations for centuries. As like-minded democracies in the twenty-first century, we are committed to working together as part of a wider global network of liberty to defend freedom and democracy, free trade, human rights and the rule of law”.
Sounds impressive but what is the reality. Many of those in real estate have noticed that property buyers from the UK have declined. UK buyers are still concerned about the future of easy travel and investment in Portugal. Pre Brexit, it was an open market with true freedom of travel, work and investment. A second home in the sun has lost some of its attraction, investors don’t like uncertainty.
Would a new UK PM reverse Brexit?
Quite simply, no. None of the remaining candidates for the position of PM have voiced any intention to return to the EU, they are all pro Brexit. The only hope is that a new PM could be someone who the EU would feel more comfortable negotiating with. Like it or not, they are diplomats, and they don’t like being ‘bullied’ by Boris. Perhaps a more subtle approach could lead to reaching better long-term agreements with the EU. There is little chance of the UK turning back, but there is a very good chance that a more diplomatic approach could lead to the easing of many of the restrictions that do no good for either party.
Will Boris leave number 10?
When Boris resigned as foreign secretary in 2018, he resisted Whitehall’s demands to leave his grace and favour residence for weeks after quitting as foreign secretary. Mr Johnson resigned from the government on July 9 but did not move out of One Carlton Gardens, a large house in St James’s near Buckingham Palace, until July 30. How long will it take him to leave number ten? Please leave the keys with the security men who escort you out!
We won’t miss you Boris.
Resident in Portugal for 50 years, publishing and writing about Portugal since 1977. Privileged to have seen, firsthand, Portugal progress from a dictatorship (1974) into a stable democracy.