British expats are in danger of not receiving their pensions after Brexit – at least that is what Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury committee, insinuated in a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond.
Subsequent newspaper reports will have had expat pensioners choking on their croissants and churros con chocolate.
But what is the basis of these claims by an arch-Remainer who in June opined in a Financial Times interview: “I’m not sure a pain-free Brexit is possible. Whatever side of the debate you were on last year, everybody accepted that it was going to have an impact on the country for decades to come.”
Yes, Nicky, but the 52 per cent of people who voted to leave presumably thought it would have a positive impact.
The Association of British Insurers said that firms must be authorised in an European Union country to sell a contract to an EU customer, continue to pay claims and accept premiums on existing contracts. How could that possibly stop pensions being paid to expats who can, in the worst case scenario, receive their pensions into a UK bank account and transfer the money across?
That is how many handle their affairs anyway; they might be expats, but they are still British citizens.
As for life insurance – this would be paid to their beneficiary, who might live anywhere in the world.
The fact is that about 900,000 British citizens live in EU countries while about 3.6 million EU citizens live in the UK. So, for every Brit who would be affected by “no deal” in this situation there would be four EU citizens affected.
Even at his most peevish, would EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker want to leave British pensioners penniless on the Costas when they contribute so much to the local economies?
I can understand the concerns of insurers who want to be able to continue to sell their products to EU citizens. The market was worth about €1,200bn (£1,000bn) in premiums in 2015.
But scaring expats over an issue that will surely be resolved looks both desperate and disingenuous.
Not a pensions mastermind
Welcome to Mastermind. Your chosen subject is pensions.
Well, at the end of the round you scored zero.
Congratulations you have won the role of pensions minister.
Editor Emma Ann Hughes hit the nail on the head last week when she castigated pensions minister Guy Opperman for his lack of knowledge on key issues.
On checking his profile I thought it said he graduated from the University of Life. No such luck, it was the University of Lille.
He follows a line of pensions ministers with no interest in pensions stretching back to the 1990s.
Anyone remember the impact made by Rosie Winterton, Stephen Timms, Ian McCartney or Mike O’Brien?
For six wonderful years we had Steve Webb and Ros Altmann, who not only understood their subject, but had a passion for it.
Quentin Letts' Daily Mail parliamentary sketch seizes on political weak spots: Theresa May is a “glum bucket” and Jeremy Corbyn is “Eeyore, a caricature pessimist”.