The British Embassy in Lisbon has just issued a statement on a new bilateral agreement that secures the rights of Portuguese citizens in the UK and British citizens in Portugal to stand and vote in local elections in each other’s countries after the UK leaves the EU, writes Len Port.*
The statement says the agreement was signed in Lisbon by Lord Callanan, UK Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the EU, and by PT State Secretary for European Affairs, Dra Ana Paula Zacarias, in the presence of the Minister for Internal Administration, Dr Eduardo Cabrita.
The agreement guarantees that all who have the right to vote in local elections and hold office on the day the UK leaves the EU will maintain that right in the future, whether the UK leaves with or without a deal. It also recognises the right of new UK residents in Portugal to vote in local elections (after 3 years of residency) and to stand in and be elected for local office (after 5 years of residency).
This is another important reassurance for UK nationals living in Portugal and for PT nationals living in the UK, that their rights will be maintained, and it enables these citizens to continue to determine who represents them in the country they reside in.
Lord Callanan said: “The oldest diplomatic agreement was signed between the UK and Portugal in 1386, now, over 600 years later, we’ve signed a treaty to secure the rights of our citizens in each other’s countries after the UK leaves the EU. This agreement gives further guarantees to the estimated 40,000 UK nationals here in Portugal and the 400,000 or so Portuguese citizens in the UK, that our historic alliance is still strong and their democratic right to vote will be protected, in any Brexit scenario.”
* Len Port worked at the Natural History Museum in London and later the Museum of Western Australia before turning to journalism. He worked for many years as a staff reporter, broadcaster and freelance correspondent covering major events in the Far East, Northern Ireland and South Africa before settling in Portugal where he has edited regional magazines, contributed to national news outlets overseas and written several books.