The Ambassador told The Portugal News that he came to the position during “unusually difficult times” thanks to the challenges that were presented due to both Brexit, and the global pandemic. However he has taken the positives from these challenges, highlighting that “collaboration can make a positive difference”.

“I feel very lucky to have spent over five years in Portugal, making this the country that I have lived in longer than any other country since I was a teenager,” said the Ambassador. “Portugal has taught me many things, especially the importance of balancing the modern and cutting edge, while preserving traditional values, something that Portugal does very well. The way that towns and villages come together, how families and friends celebrate together and especially the care for the elderly shows the strength of values in Portugal. Yes the country has problems, but many of these are overcome with the strong sense of community and family”.

A bumpy ride

The affection he feels for Portugal is very clear, but there is no denying that there have been considerable challenges for the Ambassador and Embassy to tackle in recent years. “To be perfectly candid it has been a bumpy ride at times. Readers will know that the decision in 2016 for Britain to leave the EU was very unpopular here. Dealing with the consequences of this meant that we unfortunately had less time to do more positive collaboration, and then Covid-19 came along and complicated this further.

“However I believe that the relationship between Portugal and the UK is in a better place now than it was five years ago,” said the Ambassador, who highlighted relations with trade and investment, green energy, environmental areas as well as in practical ways of supporting UK citizens. “We have come out of everything in a collaborative way and we are in good shape, so I am confident in the future”.

Brexit effects

When asked if he believed that Portugal handled Brexit well in relation to British residents in the country, the Ambassador answered honestly “Yes and no”. “On the plus side there was no doubt that the Portuguese government were committed to protecting the rights of British residents. But the implementation of this political commitment did not go smoothly, with long delays in issuing residence cards, which caused many people many problems.

“I feel I will forever be remembered by the Portuguese government for my relentless campaign to fix the issues, and while it was a battle, it was fixed with resources being allocated. I am also very happy to talk about how last year we also concluded the reciprocal driving license agreement which means that British drivers can avoid potentially losing their licence”.

Brexit not only affected British people living in Portugal, it also had a knock on effect on trade that the Embassy worked to solve. “It is true that trade fell sharply in both directions in December 2020 which was not helped by being at the height of the pandemic with global supply chains coming under strain. However trade and investment has bounced back strongly between the UK and Europe as a whole, and businesses have adjusted quite well to a post-Brexit situation with our surveys over the last two years showing that business owners are feeling optimistic for the future”.

90 day rule

An issue that has been facing many property owners in Portugal who are not resident, has been the introduction of the 90 day rule for visiting the country. There have been rumours that other countries such as France and Spain are looking at dropping this rule for British citizens coming into their countries, so we asked if this was a possibility in Portugal?

“This really is a question for the Portuguese authorities”, said the Ambassador. “What I would like to highlight is that the 90 day rule is not some sort of vindictive scheme to punish the British, it is the standard applied to all non EU citizens coming to the Schengen Zone and because it applies to people from many countries in the world it is not something that the British authorities can speculate about”.


Serving as the Ambassador to Portugal, a job he describes as “one of the most prized in the diplomatic service”, has allowed Chris Sainty to discover more about the country and the people here. “I love many things about Portugal; the countryside, the coast, the islands, the exceptional food and wine, and the art, music and literature. However the most memorable part of being here has been the countless acts of friendship and kindness from Portuguese people who have welcomed me with such warmth and hospitality. That really is the best thing”.

He added: “One of the strangest, but nicest, things that happened to me while working here had to be a piano rendition that went viral”. During lockdown he was challenged by a Portuguese colleague to play famous songs to mark the celebrations of the revolution on 25 April. “I posted the videos not expecting anyone to really notice but to my amazement it went viral and I was receiving thousands of messages from Portuguese people. It was a surreal time, but my piano playing diplomacy then made headlines worldwide, and it was lovely to be able to connect with people directly”.

He also highlighted the pride he felt in arranging for the signing of a new ambitious agreement between the two Prime Ministers of the country in June 2022 which marked a “turning point in putting difficulties behind us” and the meeting between King Charles III and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in June 2023 to celebrate the 650th anniversary of the treaty between the two countries.


Originally from the UK, Daisy has been living and working in Portugal for more than 20 years. She has worked in PR, marketing and journalism, and has been the editor of The Portugal News since 2019. Jornalista 7920

Daisy Sampson