Brit expats in Spain desperate for answers but no-one’s listening

Published:  7 Feb at 6 PM
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The message to UK expats in Europe from the UK government couldn’t be any clearer by now - no-one’s listening.

It seems one has to be Irish to gain any ground nowadays with Theresa May and her cohorts, including the leader of the only alternative political support abandoned Britons in Europe might have – the Labour Party. As EU negotiators keep repeating over and over again they will not give any more ground and May prepares for yet another useless taxpayer-funded jaunt to Europe, international and national media outlets continue reporting on the plight of UK expats as regards healthcare, jobs, freedom of movement and all the other entitlements they’re about to lose. Sadly, no-one’s listening.

In Spain, the fourth Brexit seminar to be held by the British Ambassador attracted a packed house of around 200 at Manilva’s town hall, with expats hoping against hope for some concrete news on their worst fears – their jobs and accessibility to Spain’s excellent healthcare provisions. What they got was another appeal to get residency, in spite of the fact that the majority had been trying for weeks or months to do just that. Given the hundreds of thousands of Brits in Spain and the shrinking timescale, it’s somewhat surprising the ambassador hadn’t realised mile-long queues aren’t just a British phenomenon.

The residency permit, the key to opening almost all doors in Spain, provides a secure form of ID, a permanent NIE number and gives easier access to healthcare. As a result, it would allay many expat fears, should they actually be able to get one. Voices from the audience explained how they’d been trying for what seems like ever, but can’t even get an appointment at their local police station in order to register, a situation which was confirmed by representatives of Spain’s Citizens Advice Bureau. ‘Keep trying’ was the ambassadorial advice.

One desperate expat, a former head teacher from Kent, told reporters he’d attended the meeting to look for answers, but the speakers hadn’t told expats anything they don’t already know. Unsurprisingly, he’s now lost his faith in politicians, especially after the ambassador’s reassurances that ‘ we are fully confident we can deliver a deal which will work for both the British people and our European friends’. Perhaps embassy staff didn’t have time to watch an ITV report during which it was made clear a no-deal Brexit would wreck businesses and lives should it be allowed to happen.

At the same time, EU Council president Donald Tusk said a ‘special place in hell’ should be reserved for those who’d backed Brexit without a coherent plan, a statement with which the hundreds of thousands of Brit expats in Spain would strongly agree at this point in time.
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