Brexit Sidetracking the Real Issue for Expats in Spain

In our local pub the talk has been nothing but Brexit for weeks. It’s an emotional subject with both sides having their say in a passionate way.

It’s taken over all forms of political conversation, uniting some people but mainly dividing groups who, like us, get into heated arguments over a few beers where temperatures rise quickly before things calm down a little and friendships remain.

That’s the Brexit effect but our local pub is in Ibiza and we don’t live in the UK, we live in Spain as expats.

Us expats are a funny bunch. We love the UK but don’t live there. We move to Spain for what we consider a better way of life, which basically means 300 days of sunshine per year. It’s not always easy integrating yourselves with the locals, some do it better than others, some try hard to learn the local language whereas others don’t even bother. The expat can be a strange creature

I clearly remember in the 90s when Sky TV finally arrived in Spain. A seminal moment and what many thought was the final piece of the jigsaw, watching English football in your own Spanish home with the sun shining outside. Then came Sky digital which meant Coronation Street and Eastenders could also became part of your lives in Spain, if you were that way inclined.

Nowadays it’s gone even further and with the boom of the internet you can practically work anywhere in the world and still retain all your passion for your birthplace, as has been proven with Brexit.

But it’s sidetracked the real issue of our day to day lives in Spain, it’s been a diversion but it’s time to focus on what’s really important and that’s the Spanish local municipal elections on Sunday 26 May.

Over 18 million British tourists visit Spain every year. Banco Santander is a massive player in UK banking. Spanish companies such as AENA own Luton Airport and Telefonica own O2.

Brexit or no Brexit, the UK and Spain’s future was never in doubt, there’s too much to lose on both sides for the two countries not to find an agreeable way forward. Of course there will be changes in the event of Brexit but they won’t be earth shattering.

On the Spanish Costas there’s been a big shift in how tourism is viewed mainly through political point scoring and short term reactions rather than long term planning. Here in Ibiza it’s been a policy of prohibit and cull rather than invest and manage. There’s massive things happening locally right now that need to be voted on.

Brexit, it’s been fun, but now as an expat it’s time to focus on the real issue of who you are going to vote for in the Spanish local elections on Sunday 26 May. Who is going to be leading your local town hall come June and who is going to be making the decisions that will affect your life on a daily basis over the next 4 years.

Author: Martin Makepeace

Englishman living and working in Ibiza since 1991. Entrepreneur with a passion for villas, boats, sunsets and San Antonio. Read my blogs, listen to my podcasts and catch me on Radio One Mallorca every Tuesday morning.

3 thoughts on “Brexit Sidetracking the Real Issue for Expats in Spain”

  1. Dear Martin, you have to see that Brexit is vitally important in terms of taking part in local elections, too. Without membership of the European Union you would not have that right, and if the UK leaves, it is likely that you Brits will lose it. I remember, back in the days when I lived in Ibiza, the idea of foreigners voting in elections seemed astonishingly unlikely, and I became friendly with Per Svennson who was probably as responsible as anybody for opening Spanish local politics to foreigners. Brexit will blight many things – local political participation in Spain may well be one of them.


  2. Good point, Martin. I hope that you will also write a piece on where and how to best follow the candidates’ political agendas – for people with limited understanding of the subtleties of the language, or no Spanish at all.


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