Spanish PM cites Brexit as highly negative for British citizens

Published:  2 Jun at 6 PM
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In an interview with a Spanish international news agency, the Spanish prime minister suggested that a Brexit would signal major problems with the right of free movement for UK expats living in his country.

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy told international news agency EFE that Britain’s leaving the EU would be very negative for Spain, the UK and the EU itself, as British citizens would lose their right to free movement within the European community. The principles of the EU, he said, were based on the principle of free movement of goods, services and people across the EU, to which British citizens would no longer have entitlement.

Earlier this year, experts predicted a mass exodus of UK expats from Spain should Brexit become a reality, throwing some 400,000 British citizens living, retiring or working in Spain into a minor panic. Around 100,000 Spanish citizens are living and working in the UK at the present time, with no guidance as to how Britain’s leaving the EU would affect their lives.

Spain is the most popular of the EU retirement destinations for Brit pensioners, with many having moved there with no intention of ever returning to the UK. It’s also a hub for British businesses serving the expat community, with little if any clarity available as to what might happen should the rules change.

Around 35 per cent of the British contingent resident in Spain are listed as being over 65 years old, and are entitled to reciprocal healthcare under an EU deal. The majority are unable to afford private health insurance, and many say they would be unable to afford to buy a home should they be forced to return to the UK.

Spain seems to be a special case as regards the plight of UK expats should they no longer be entitled to EU citizenship, due to the huge number of those affected and their particular financial circumstances. According to a Reuters report, one 80-year old expat believes many will have to leave and the British government will be forced to find homes for them.
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