As British politicians struggle to come up with a cohesive idea regarding how they want to leave the European Union, the possibility of a hard Brexit is becoming ever more likely. A hard Brexit would mean that the United Kingdom would sever all previous trade ties with the E.U. and its member states, which is bad news for countries such as Portugal who see the United Kingdom as a valuable trading partner.
António Costa, the Portuguese Prime Minister, announced in January that Portuguese airports (mainly the ones in Algarve and Madeira, the regions with the highest number of British tourists) would have a special British corridor for incoming visitors that would work in the same way as the EU citizens passport control. Mr. Costa stated, “Millions of Britons visit Portugal as tourists every year, we have to ensure the flow is not interrupted.”
Furthermore, Portuguese Interior Minister, Eduardo Cabrita, announced that even in the case of a hard Brexit, British nationals living in and travelling to Portugal would not be subjected to visa restrictions, as the Portuguese government values tourism heavily and sees Britain as a key source of tourists and migrants.
Meanwhile, here in London, Portuguese-owned businesses operating in the UK are bracing themselves for the possibility of a hard Brexit on 31st October. Although many are confident of remaining flexible and able to cope, come what may, several businesses have voiced concern about the possibility of a further drop in the value of sterling, making their products more expensive. Others would welcome an end to the uncertainty of the last three years since the referendum, saying that any decision is better than none. Many businesses have delayed investment in machines and expansion due to the unstable outlook.
For the next month, here in the UK, we can only watch and wait, as the tortuous Brexit process approaches its end game.