A no-deal Brexit will cost British holidaymakers hundreds of pounds each after the government chose to side with mobile phone operators and end free-roaming for UK customers.
Currently, EU legislation means that British tourists do not have to pay any extra fees to use their smartphones to call, text, or use the internet whilst travelling throughout the European Union than they would at home. Prior to this law coming into force in 2017, some operators were charging their UK customers as much as £1/minute for calls and £1/mb to use the internet while travelling in France, Spain, Germany or beyond, which quickly adds up. If the government doesn’t change course, these fees could be back as soon as 29 March.
In a draft statutory instrument, tabled by the government as part of a raft of no-deal preparations, the government has pledged to remove restrictions on mobile operators that force them to provide for free roaming throughout Europe. The UK government could have chosen to maintain parity with the EU legislation after Brexit, but instead bowed to pressure and heavy lobbying from phone companies rather than protect UK consumers.
Alex Neill, managing director of home services at consumer group Which?, commented: “Two thirds of people think free roaming is important when travelling in Europe, so any return to sky-high charges for using mobile phones abroad would be a bitter blow for millions of consumers.”
“The government should seek to avoid these charges by securing a deal with the EU – but if that is not the outcome, companies must be absolutely clear about any extra charges their customers could be facing.”
The warning comes as Theresa May continues to play politics with the rapidly approaching Brexit deadline, threatening those that do not agree with her deal that they must come on board to prevent a catastrophic crash out of the EU.