Brexit threat to retired Briton and his Russian wife

Published:  24 Jul at 6 PM
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As the Brexit negotiations to date have shed no light on the fates of British retirees living in Europe, stories of individuals and couples caught up in the mind-numbing uncertainly are increasingly being covered by the British media.

The ramifications of a hard Brexit will be harsh enough on retired British couples getting by on the ungenerous UK state pension, but for Britons married to non-EU nationals they could be life-changing. One such is 81year-old Tony Stone, a retired antiques dealer married to Maryna, a Russian citizen. Tony is reliant on the EHIC health card which ensures his medical needs are reciprocally paid for by the NHS and, like many thousands of other British expats, cannot afford commercial health insurance out of his state pensions and small private pension.

His situation, however, is far worse as, should he be forced to return to the UK post-Brexit, he would be disallowed from bringing his wife with him as she is still a Russian citizen and has already been refused entry to the UK. In his former profession, Tony was one of the biggest dealers in antique boxes in the world, with a gallery in Mayfair and a shop in the Portobello Road. The 2008 financial crash put paid to his business, as it did to many other British antiques businesses, and the couple moved to Spain as it was an affordable, warmer location.

Ten years later, he’s terrified of losing everything again due to the British government’s refusal to guarantee reciprocal healthcare for its expat pensioners. His worst fear is that his health will deteriorate and he will be forced to return to the UK, leaving Maryna alone and unsupported in Spain.

Much is being made of the fact that, should an agreement not be reached, British tourists who fall ill or have accidents on their holidays in EU member states will not be covered by reciprocal healthcare. Campaigners, however, believe it’s far more important that expats such as Tony aren’t reduced to losing everything due to being used as bargaining chips for politicians.

Source: The Guardian
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