At last there has been a step in the right direction. At a European Council meeting in Brussels last night, the British Prime Minister announced to her colleagues that the 3 million European nationals residing in the United Kingdom would not be obliged to leave the country once Brexit has been enacted.
It would be premature for those 3 million European nationals to think of cracking open a bottle of prosecco, spumante, champagne, or whatever, but they should at least now be thinking of putting one in the fridge. Mrs May was coolly reminded by her colleagues that the European Council was not the appropriate forum for Brexit negotiations and that Michel Barnier, the European Union’s steely chief negotiator, was the only person with authority to respond to the British government’s proposal.
Now that Teresa May has pulled this crucial card from her negotiating bag, it would however be very difficult indeed to put it back again. May is in an embarrassingly weak negotiating position and the time had come to make some concessions. We can logically presume that if European nationals are to be allowed to continue their lives and careers in the United Kingdom, the 1.3 million British expats currently living in the European Union will equally be permitted to continue to live in the member states in which they reside.
May made her announcement at a dinner for the European Union heads of state and government. This only goes to show how right continental Europeans are to attach so much importance to a proper dinner. I can hardly bare to think what the Prime Minister might have come up with if only nibbles and beer had been on offer!
For some time now I had been contemplating fleeing to the Douro after Brexit. I would have lived in that beautiful region disguised as a shepherd, mumbling away to my flock in English. Now I hope I will be able to shelve this inconvenient plan B!
There remains the awesome question of what would have happened to the Algarve Daily News if British expats had been asked to return to their ludicrously expensive home country with its gloomy weather. Would that much-loved newspaper have been forced into clandestine publication?