Mobile data roaming 'to remain free' even if there is a no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
12th September 2018

Data roaming charges for British mobile phone users will not increase even if there is a no-deal Brexit, ministers will announce today.

Anti-Brexit campaigners said users could be charged more than £170 for 1 GB of data
PA Images

A deal struck between the Government and Vodafone, Three and O2 means bills will not go up despite the fact that the UK will no longer be covered by an existing EU-wide agreement.

Roaming charges were capped in 2015, meaning EU citizens have not faced extra charges for using their mobile phones while travelling in the bloc.

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Leaving the EU without an replacement agreement in place would leave companies free to re-introduce roaming charges for their British customers.

But unveiling the latest set of documents outlining how Britain would cope in a no-deal scenario, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to confirm that mobile phone users will be protected.

The Government will release around 30 no-deal Brexit papers later today - laying out how specific sectors as well as the general public should prepare for crashing out of the bloc without a deal.

Theresa May will meanwhile hold a special three-hour Cabinet meeting to discuss preparations for a disorderly departure with her ministers.

The no-deal 'technical notices' will cover issues such as upholding environmental standards, vehicle standards and the rules governing mobile phone billing.

Anti-Brexit campaigners said a return of roaming charges could cost business people working with the EU almost £800 a month and normal users up to £173 for using 1 GB of data.

“The cost of a hard Brexit on British travellers is becoming abundantly clear,” fumed Lib Dem MP Layla Moran - speaking on behalf of the Best for Britain campaign.

“Millions of people are facing higher costs to make calls and texts abroad because of the Prime Minister's botched Brexit plans.”

Three has already said it will not reintroduce roaming charges, while Vodafone, EE, Tesco Mobile and O2 have said they have no plans to hike costs after Brexit.

The Government released the first tranche of no-deal 'technical notices' last month, which warned the UK could face a swamp of fresh regulations as well as new credit card charges for Brits abroad.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said the no-deal planning would ensure Britain will “continue to flourish, regardless of the outcome of negotiations”.

“These technical notices are part and parcel of our sensible, pragmatic approach to preparing for all outcomes,” he explained.

“Getting a deal with the European Union is still by far and away the most likely outcome, and I will continue to champion our Chequers proposals with Michel Barnier as the best way of securing the deep and special partnership we want with the EU.”

Elsewhere, Sky News reported that the Government had written to EU member states warning that a no-deal Brexit could require new arrangements to maintain road and air travel.