According to a report by Lusa, the overwhelming majority of Portuguese company members of the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom consider it important or very important that the country remains inside the European Union.
A questionnaire sent out by the Chamber to businesses found that 86% of companies responding took the stance of it being important to stay within the EU, with only 10% of firms ruling it of no importance whether the United Kingdom remains one of the 28 European Union member states.
In total, 41% of the 300 company members responded to the survey made earlier this month with findings also showing that 78% of members believe that a leave vote in the referendum would have either some impact or a large impact, with 8% responding little or no impact and the remainder undecided.
While the majority of the businesses questioned in the survey accepted that Brexit would have an impact on the future of their company, there were varying results when it came to just how prepared businesses were if Briton did leave the European Union.
The questionnaire found that 24% of the companies deemed they were prepared for such a scenario with 35% accepting that they were unprepared and a further 41% stated either not knowing or not having evaluated the situation.
Chamber President Bernardo Ivo Cruz told Lusa that uncertainty surrounded the entire subject, with companies unsure just what the outcome of the referendum will be but also just what to do in the meanwhile.
“Nobody knows whether the British will decide to leave and what will happen afterwards. It is difficult for companies to prepare for a scenario that nobody knows and it is difficult to anticipate,” Ivo Cruz told Lusa.
The chamber president added that the chamber was taking no direct position on the referendum out of respect for the British electorate but that contacts with the British authorities, members of parliament and other such figures had only revealed that they also did not know just how companies should prepare for such an eventuality.
Lack of information
The UK referendum will be taking place on June 23, with the question being posed to voters being “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” The options for voters will be ‘Remain a member of the European Union’ or ‘Leave the European Union’.
As yet there is still no answer as to how Brexit could affect the British residents living in Portugal and this has been highlighted in a UK government report issued in February which stated that: “UK citizens living, working and travelling in the other 27 member states…currently enjoy a range of specific rights to live, work and access pensions, healthcare and public services that are only guaranteed because of EU law. There would be no requirement under EU law for these rights to be maintained if the UK left the EU”.
For some, the uncertainty surrounding the referendum is highlighted by a lack of information for British citizens living in Portugal and their eligibility to vote.
Jamie Darke, a British citizen living in Portugal and a former Political Counsellor told The Portugal News: “I am concerned that the British Embassy has not campaigned actively to alert Britons who are eligible to vote in the referendum on 23 June, to the importance of doing so and how they go about securing their ballot papers or proxy”.
He added that it was important for people living within the EU to cast their vote and make their voices heard: “The main argument is the uncertainty over their residence in Portugal following Brexit that every Briton will face. Will work visas be required, will the retired have to have liquid capital of a set amount so as not to be a burden on the Portuguese state? Will existing residency be recognised? So I hope as many as possible will vote Remain.”
The Portugal News contacted the British Embassy in Lisbon who issued the following statement: “A lot of people aren’t aware that it’s possible to register as an overseas voter for certain UK polls - UK Parliamentary General Elections, European Parliamentary elections and the upcoming EU Referendum. Many people are eligible to vote and now it’s easier than ever to take the first step by going online,” said Alex Robertson, Director of Communications at the Electoral Commission.
The statement also outlined the timetable for British voters in Portugal. “The deadline for registering to vote is set out in law and applies to overseas and UK resident voters alike.
“This deadline is 12 working days before polling day (ie 7 June). However, the Electoral Commission’s recommended deadline for overseas voters to register is 16 May; the ballot papers will be posted out between 23-27 May. The recommended deadline is because if overseas voters leave their registration to the last minute, they probably will not have time for their ballot papers to be posted out and then posted back again”.
How to vote
There is information available for British voters living in Portugal available online with details about who is able to take part in the crucial vote by applying to become an overseas voter.
To be eligible, citizens must have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years and be eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections and European Parliamentary elections.
To register to vote in England, Scotland or Wales, you can register online by visiting
Once you are registered to vote, there are three ways you can vote in the EU referendum. Either at a polling station in person if you are in the UK on June 23, by post after completing a postal vote application, or by proxy.


Originally from the UK, Daisy has been living and working in Portugal for more than 20 years. She has worked in PR, marketing and journalism, and has been the editor of The Portugal News since 2019. Jornalista 7920

Daisy Sampson