Spanish foreign minister pledges UK expats can stay post Brexit

Published:  23 Oct at 6 PM
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Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis has reassured British expats their post-Brexit lives will not be interrupted, even if the Brexit no-deal option is taken by the UK government.

With the first official comment on the fate of some 300,000 Britons living, working and retiring in Spain, Dastis has done more than Theresa May or any other EU member state leader to quell British expats' fears of being forced back to the UK. Official figures reveal there are 308,805 UK expats in the country, over a third of whom are pensioners aged 65 years or older.

Ever since the referendum last June, uncertainty about their future has been increasing, with the British government unable or unwilling to offer any concrete reassurance their rights would be protected. Dastis’s statement seems to offer an unconditional guarantee, even should negotiations fail and a hard Brexit the only alternative.

May has been under pressure from a group of hardline Conservatives to simply leave without any agreement in order to get out of paying what many are now calling a ‘divorce settlement’. Dastis’s statement praised the close relationship between Spain and the UK, quoting social exchanges as well as economic relationships and adding Spain wants Brits who live and retire in the country to continue to do so, as much as is possible.

Observers of the faltering Brexit negotiations are becoming convinced it’s all about the money, with many saying the EU is using British citizens as an excuse to claw more cash from the UK. The fact that Dastis made his welcome comments during a BBC One interview with seasoned political commentator Andrew Marr may be seen as having significance as the Spanish government’s position is thus unable to be dismissed as fake news.

Further Brexit news notes May will tell the British parliament this week that she regards ‘people’ as her first priority in the negotiations, although she’s stuck on not giving her EU counterparts a final divorce bill figure until trade negotiations have started. Other reports focus on Gina Miller’s demand for May to release documents which contain details on the means by which Article 50 could be legally reversed.
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