A quarter of a million expats may return the UK if there is a no deal Brexit – or face losing free healthcare
Some 250,000 expats are expected to return to the UK in the event of No Deal as they will lose free health care.
A so-called ‘Brexodus’ from the EU could increase the burden on the NHS and social care services as around 40 per cent of the returning expats would be pensioners.
The Government has previously admitted it is cheaper to pay Spain and France to look after Britons than have them fly home.
Currently pensioners can have treatment reimbursed by the NHS under a reciprocal EU-wide arrangement.
A so-called ‘Brexodus’ from the EU could increase the burden on the NHS and social services
Pensioners who have paid in to the national insurance system for the qualifying number of years benefit from the rules if they retire in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
Under the ‘worst case scenario’ in the Government’s contingency plans, around 150,000 people would return in the first year after March 29. Another 100,000 would come the following year.
Around 1.3million British citizens reside in countries across the EU. There are 70,000 British pensioners in Spain, 44,000 in Ireland, 43,000 in France and 12,000 in Cyprus.
A Government spokesman said the worst-case scenario was ‘misleading’ and out of date.
It came as a US intelligence chief warned of economic disruption if the UK leaves the EU without a deal during a US senate intelligence committee hearing on ‘worldwide threats’.
Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, said of Brexit: ‘This would cause economic disruptions that could substantially weaken the UK and Europe.