Brexit nightmare hits Brits in Spain

Published:  21 Mar at 6 PM
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Contrary to the expected uproar from over a million UK expats in Spain over even the possibility of Britain’s quitting the EU, many long-term Brits are going with their gut feelings and voting to leave.

Although the vast majority of Brits living the dream in Spain’s costas haven’t changed their nationalities, a good number have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years, thus losing their right to vote. The same applies to many of the four million Brits living elsewhere in the EU, with no poll having been taken on the likelihood of a reversal of the unjust rule changing the outcome of the referendum. As a result, both pro and anti feelings are running high in Spain’s popular coastal resorts, with a surprising number deciding to vote to leave in spite of fears of losing residency, healthcare, index-linked state pensions and more.

It seems that fear of a total collapse of the bloated, failing EU mechanism and its unpopular currency is more threatening than the as yet unknown threat of losing homes, financial support and lifestyles. The British Embassy in Madrid is ramping up its efforts to get all expats eligible to vote signed up by the time the referendum takes place on June 23. The registration campaign, introduced last month, is now attracting a rush of applicants whose stays overseas haven’t extended beyond 15 years. An Embassy official told local media that expat views on the dilemma are surely sparking serious debate amongst families and friends in the home country.

Many expats in Spain believe that the country is in crisis and feel that expats may no longer be as welcome as they once were. A few new arrivals are already being refused the coveted European Health Card, without which free heathcare both in Spain and the UK via the UK’s National Health Service cannot be had. Many say they have nothing in Britain to return to and, as a result, would hate to have to leave Spain. State pension payments are another reason for concern, as is the time it would take to arrange bilateral agreements on healthcare and pensions between Spain and non-EU Britain. One expat put it succinctly, stating that ‘Brexit is a nightmare waiting to happen’.
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