Why Brexit Shouldn’t be Feared by British ExPats Living in Spain

The UK general election is over, the Conservative Party won in a seismic landslide that saw Labour Party heartlands turn from deep red to light blue.

Generations of loyal Labour Party voters decided to go against the grain and the will of their forefathers and vote for the Conservatives for the very first time. Although the Corbyn factor played a massive part, as the TV crews trawled the streets of these towns to pick the bones out of the result there was only one other word on everyone’s lips. BREXIT.

Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Blyth Valley, Workington, Burnley, Don Valley, Sedgefield, Stoke on Trent. Unthinkable that these staunch Labour constituencies now have a Tory MP, some for the very first time. No coincidence that all these communities voted to leave the EU

As a proud Brit but a Spanish resident it’s been interesting looking on from across the sea. Like many I’m stuck in a political vacuum: I wasn’t allowed to vote in the EU referendum even though the decision affected me more than many others. I’m not allowed to vote in a UK general election because I’ve lived abroad for more than 15 years and I’m not able to vote in a Spanish general election because I’m not a Spanish citizen. (Thankfully I am allowed to vote for my local mayor in San Antonio, a vote which I value more than anything.)

So what does this UK election result mean to me and many other British ex-pats living in Spain concerned about what’s around the corner. Well there’s some good and some bad news.

The ‘bad’ news is that Brexit is going to happen now, it’s an unstoppable train after these election results which, for many, served as a 2nd referendum. It’s ‘bad’ because things will change. Our passports will no longer give us the (expensive) luxury of being a member of the EU. This will remove certain rights that we have taken for granted for nearly 30 years. European law allowed us to move freely over European borders living and working anywhere we wanted to. This is going to stop.

The ‘good’ news is that the uncertainty has been taken away. There will be no ‘People’s Vote’, there is no grey area. The remainers are licking their wounds as they know that the game is over. Brexit is happening and all energies can now be focussed on securing the best deal possible for the UK.

Speaking specifically as a British person living in Spain we need to be cautious but not overly worried. The ties between the 2 countries are very strong and in my dealings with UK diplomats they have always said that there is a lot of goodwill to have reciprocal agreements in place that are good for both countries and their citizens.

More importantly is the fact that Brits love Spain, I mean really love Spain. They didn’t vote to leave the EU because they didn’t like Spain, they voted to leave because Brussels (in their view) became a bloated meddling superstate that interfered in all aspects of life. That was OK for other relatively new countries who welcomed European assistance but the British psyche is very peculiar and Brexit was sold (rightly or wrongly) as taking back control which appealed to a mainly middle aged UK.

18 million Brits go on holiday to Spain every year, our Spanish love affair knows no bounds. Paella, sangria and sunshine is a simple format but Brits are simple people. Relaxing in the sunshine is not something we are overly afforded the privilege of in the UK so a 2 hour flight to Spain and an inexpensive weekend eating great food amongst friendly people in the sunshine is something we love to indulge in and long may it continue.

Boris Johnson now has a clear mandate to push Brexit through and over the coming weeks it will become clear what this really means for thousands of British expats living in Spain. There will be some political manoeuvring but it’s not a time to panic, there is too much at stake for both countries not to come up with a deal that is good for the thousands of Brits living in Spain and also the rising number of Spanish living in the UK.

Above all the British love affair with Spain is set to carry on for many more years to come.

Rule Britannia, Viva España

Author: Martin Makepeace

Englishman living and working in Ibiza since 1991. Entrepreneur with a passion for villas, boats, sunsets and San Antonio. Owner of Ibiza Property Shop and Ibiza Speedboats.

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