The higher ground

Boris Johnson guarantees “total respect” for Portuguese residents in UK post-Brexit

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson has guaranteed “total respect” for Portuguese residents living in UK post-Brexit.

In a call on Monday to Portugal’s prime minister António Costa, Mr Johnson gave clear indication that he would be reciprocating on Portugal’s own pledge that ‘nothing would change’ for British citizens resident in Portugal once the UK leaves the European Union (click here).

But he used the occasion to ram home his agenda to leave the union, with or without a deal, on October 31.

The interesting aspect of this first official call to Portugal from Britain’s new PM is that no reports cover what António Costa said.

Portuguese news stories highlight the fact that both men agreed “that it was very important to strengthen bilateral relations, namely in the areas of science, technology, the sea and defence due to their geographical position”.

But there was no indication of how Mr Costa reacted to Mr Johnson’s insistence that he will “energetically pursue a deal” with the EU, but that any deal “must abolish the backstop”.

The soundbites released were suitably anodyne, though they served to assure any Portuguese registered as living in Britain that their rights will be protected after Brexit, and their contribution to the UK is considered “valuable”.

Sharing the few paragraphs over social media, a number of groups have been less than enthusiastic, suggesting this is all just window dressing to reinforce the new Conservative Government’s “do or die” stand.

Intriguingly, however, a poll in the Daily Telegraph published yesterday claims Mr Johnson’s enthusiasm for Brexit has the support of more than half of the British public who even agree to the controversial idea of suspending Parliament to get it.

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