Eurozone crisis: UK prepares to rescue Eurogeddon refugees
19 December 2011
With credit rating agencies warning that the deal struck by EU leaders this month might not save the single currency from collapse, the Sunday Times has revealed that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is drawing up plans to evacuate thousands of British expatriates from Spain and Portugal should their banking systems collapse.
With one million Britons living in Spain and some 50,000 UK resident in Portugal –
The Foreign Office is concerned that expats who have invested savings in their adopted countries could be left stranded, unable to withdraw cash and facing losing their homes if the banks call in loans.
Foreign Office sources said it was planning for a “nightmare scenario” with thousands of penniless Britons sleeping at airports with no money and no means of getting home.
Among the plans being discussed are the sending of planes, ships and coaches to the region, as well as extending small loans to those stranded. Although Spain and Portugal have a bank deposit guarantee scheme where clients are covered for up to €100,000, “banks limit withdrawals to stop people removing all their money and leaving the country.”
According to a Foreign Office source, the plans are-
… drawing on experiences of other mass evacuations, such as during the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel where the UK sent warships to evacuate expats from Lebanon.
“It sounds like a scare-story, but it must be taken seriously,” writes El Mundo, on a scenario that “has sounded the alarm throughout our country’s British community, in Marbella and Malaga especially”.
Noting that the revelations coincide with the downgrading of ten Spanish banks by rating agency Standard & Poor’s, the Madrid daily writes that the majority of British expats in Spain are retirees who have sunk their savings in coastal residences which “took an enormous hit when the housing bubble burst.”