Sunday, 18 December 2011

Brits who invested their savings in their adopted countries may not be able to withdraw cash and could even lose their homes if banks call in loans

Marbella, Andalusia, Spain (pic: Getty)

Marbella, Andalusia, Spain (pic: Getty)

EMERGENCY evacuation plans for Brits living in Spain and Portugal are being drawn up amid fears of the euro collapsing.

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The drastic proposals emerged as a former Security Minister warned expats could be left stranded and destitute by the break-up of the single currency.

Brits who invested their savings in their adopted countries may not be able to withdraw cash and could even lose their homes if banks call in loans, worried ministers are warning.

The Foreign Office is preparing to bring them back from Spain and Portugal if the two countries are forced out of the euro, triggering a banking collapse.

A million Brits live in Spain and 50,000 in neighbouring Portugal – plus a million in the other eurozone countries.

And Baroness Neville-Jones, who only stepped down as a minister in May, called the situation “very, very worrying”.

The Tory peer – who once chaired the Joint Intelligence Committee for MI5, MI6 and other security agencies – said: “Spain is clearly a vulnerable area. If that happens, one of the things that will happen in a crash of that kind, is that the banks would close their doors. You would find that there are people there, including our own citizens, a lot of them, who couldn’t get money out to live on. So you would have a destitution problem.”

Brits living in Europe Map

British planes, ships and coaches could be sent to pluck our citizens from debt-ridden Spain and Portugal

Commenting on the evacuation plans, she added: “I think they are right to be doing that. I think this is a real contingency that they need to plan against – very, very worrying.”

Officials are braced for a nightmare scenario where thousands end up penniless and sleeping at airports with no means of getting home. Planes, ships and coaches could be sent, with some expats being brought out through Gibraltar.

The Foreign Office could offer small loans while piling pressure on the banks to give Brits access to their funds.

Spanish and Portuguese banks guarantee the first 100,000 euros deposited by savers but many put limits on withdrawals in a crisis.

A powerful credit rating agency downgraded 10 Spanish banks last week, while another warned over the weekend the debt crisis was threatening to spiral out of control.




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