Expat anger and confusion over conflicting diplomatic advice at Manilva meeting

Published:  25 Nov at 6 PM
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British expats expressed their anger and confusion over conflicting advice at a Costa del Sol Brexit event.

After more than three years’ lack of concrete information given to British expatriates living in Spain, British consulate staff were faced with confusion and anger at their latest attempt to clarify expats’ rights post-Brexit. In answer to a question about pension rights, the recently-appointed UK ambassador Hugh Elliot gave one answer whilst British consul Charmaine Arbouin’s reply contradicted his comment.

The advisory event took place in Manilva and was attended by president of Brexpats in Spain Anne Hernandez and a good number of concerned British long-stay expats in Spain. Following the ambassador’s and consul’s response to a question on guaranteeing lifelong British state pension uprates, Hernandes intervened from the audience, saying the uprate issue was ‘nothing to do with the European Union’. As a result, the newly-appointed ambassador was forced to check official information for the correct answer, finally clarifying that post –Brexit upgrades would only officially continue until March 2023, a comment which wasn’t well received by his audience.

However, uprated UK state pensions weren’t the only topic angering expatriate attendees, as sparks few again when long-stay expats expressed their fury at being disenfranchised after 15 years’ stay overseas. Many called for a lifetime right to vote in order to allow retired expats a voice, especially in matters affecting their human rights. One furious expat told the press no-one has any idea what’s really going on, letting the British ambassador off the hook by blaming British politicians back home as well as the referendum itself, adding the British public were told a bunch of lies by the Leave campaign.

Another ‘lifetime remainer’ living in Manilva said the entire process has been an absolute mess. Also speaking to the press, Arbouin agreed there’s very little clarity but much uncertainty on the political aspect of Brexit, adding embassy and consulate staff were doing their best to get correct information to expats affected by Brexit via Facebook, regular updates on the official website and meetings held in rural areas as well as in cities with large Brit expat communities.
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