Bremain in Spain chair slams UK media for stereotyping Brit expats

Published:  12 Feb at 6 PM
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Whilst it’s a positive development that UK media outlets are now publicising the plight of British expats in Spain, it’s counterproductive in its use of hated stereotypes.

As the Brexit disaster rolls on, British newspapers are finally waking up to the unavoidable fact that hundreds of thousands of UK expatriates are about to be left with shattered dreams and not much else. However, the media’s use of tired old stereotypes is preventing the real message from getting through, causing even more pain, anger and desperation across Spain’s expat communities. A recent article by Sue Wilson, chair of Bremain in Spain, urges the media to tell it like it is rather than sensationally colouring the bleak picture simply to get more readers.

Ever since the referendum result was announced and its threat to Britons retiring in EU member states became clear, the UK government’s claim that its citizens’ rights would be protected as a priority hasn’t held up to even the most casual scrutiny. Citizens’ rights groups have tirelessly worked to support and protect expat interests, whilst British lawmakers are trying equally hard to deliberately limit protestors’ impact. As a result, British expats in Spain have come to the conclusion that their concerns are irrelevant at best and not worth noting at worst. At the same time, May’s policies towards EU expatriates in the UK have been conciliatory, making British citizens overseas feel they’re now totally disregarded.

In this, the British media aren’t helping by choosing to interview candidates who don’t represent the majority of expats either working or in the retirement category. The very word ‘expat’ conjures up a vision of Brits whose opinions suggest they’re superior to other migrants in Spain or, worse still, a picture of overweight men in singlets and shorts swilling beer 24/7 in local cabanas. It’s not so easy to differentiate these images from those of EU expatriates living and working in the UK as qualified professionals when they’re pushed as the real deal.

Only around 25 per cent of British citizens in Spain are pensioners, spread over coastal areas, the interior, Spain’s big cities and its smaller towns. The working majority in the expat community are equally dispersed across the country, and all are similarly affected by the mess the British government has made and is still making of what was an ‘advisory’ referendum with very little real information about its possible consequences. Whatever Spain is really about, it’s not about bars festooned with union jacks.

Business owners, parents with young children and students at Spanish universities are all part of the Spain-wide community, but this depiction doesn’t sell newspapers. Chair of Bremain in Spain Sue Wilson is asking TV and media crews heading for Spain to get the real message, and even visit a few UK towns where Remain voters are in the majority in order to present a true picture of resident Britons’ feelings about Brexit and its affect on their lives.
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