Sue Wilson Writes: The Brexit media coverage of British immigrants in Spain reinforces hated stereotypes

Sue Wilson Writes: The Brexit media coverage of British immigrants in Spain reinforces hated stereotypes

Throughout the entire Brexit debacle, a common complaint from Brits living in Spain is that we’re not being seen or heard.

Despite the UK government claiming that citizens’ rights would be its “number one priority” in the Brexit negotiations, we haven’t seen much evidence of this happening.

Citizens’ rights groups have worked tirelessly to protect our interests but have received limited engagement with the UK government. Unsurprisingly, many Brits in Spain feel that they’re invisible, and that their concerns are considered irrelevant.

Until recently, the UK media has taken little interest in our plight. When interest has been shown, we haven’t always been happy with the results.

Whether it’s the terminology used, the locations and candidates chosen for interviews, or the oft-repeated accompanying photographs sourced from media image libraries, most press coverage has reinforced the stereotypes so hated by most.

Let’s start with the “e” word – most of the Brits I know hate to be called “expats”.

The term comes with such negative connotations. It implies that we are different: better than other immigrants (foreign ones, that is!), simply because we’re British and, therefore, superior to everyone else.

Please call us what we are – immigrants, migrants – and don’t differentiate us from EU citizens living in the UK. We’re all in the same boat, although our crew is friendlier and the weather milder here.

Another media depiction I find annoying and inaccurate is that we’re all pensioners living the life of Riley on a ‘costa’, sipping gin and tonic on a sun-kissed beach.

Well, I confess I am a pensioner and I do live on a ‘costa’, so in that respect, I am a stereotype, but I hate gin and haven’t been on a beach in three years!

Read Sue’s full article in The Local

Sue Wilson Writes – OPINION: It’s no surprise some Brits in Spain would now accept a soft Brexit

Sue Wilson Writes – OPINION: It’s no surprise some Brits in Spain would now accept a soft Brexit

In her weekly column for The Local Sue Wilson, chair of the Bremain in Spain group explains that while many Brits in the country would now be willing to accept a soft Brexit, she is not one of them.

Do we have good news? Not really.

The EU has recently agreed to give British citizens visa-free travel to its member states, even if there’s a no-deal Brexit. This proposal would allow Brits to visit the EU for up to 90 days; reciprocated by the UK re EU citizens who want to visit the UK.

The no-visa news was almost buried amongst considerable foot-stomping and grumbling from the UK government about Gibraltar being described as a “colony” of the British crown, despite the UK widely using the same term to describe it in the past. Heaven forbid that the UK government would welcome any move made by the EU for its citizens’ benefit!

So, what does the visa news really mean? A stay within a Schengen travel area country, such as Spain, could only take place for 90 days within any 180-day period.

While this move is good news for British tourists, it hasn’t been well-received by those who live in Spain full-time, or what the British Embassy describes as “swallows” – i.e. Brits with second homes in Spain who like to fly south for winter.

The potential loss of our rights and freedoms has been a major concern since the referendum on 23 June 2016.

Despite government claims about us being one of the three “priorities” in phase one of the Brexit negotiations, we’ve been ignored throughout the entire process.

We’ve never managed to secure an audience with the Prime Minister, or any of the three heads of the Department for Exiting the EU, and not for lack of trying. The EU, on the other hand, has engaged with us throughout, even offering meetings with Michel Barnier.

At the end of 2018, when the Withdrawal Agreement was agreed by May and the EU – if not by UK parliament – British citizens in the EU felt an element of relief.

Read Sue’s full article in The Local