What will Brits in Spain need to get ‘settled status’?

What will Brits in Spain need to get ‘settled status’?

Sue Wilson of Bremain in Spain provides some reassurance for British people resident in Spain.
 
With the British government pushing its controversial Immigration Bill through parliament last week, the focus was on the rights of EU citizens. In particular, the ruling that requires immigrants to pay into the NHS, regardless of their existing tax contributions, seems especially unfair. The government’s dramatic U-turn to remove the fee for healthcare workers was welcome, but the issue of double taxation for other EU citizens remains.

On this side of the Channel, Brits in Europe are mourning the loss of their freedom of movement rights, which enabled us to make new lives for ourselves in EU countries. Those opportunities, that we took full advantage of, are sadly being taken away from future generations. Those of us already residing here must focus on protecting the lives we’ve built.

Regarding our status in Europe, Michael Gove recently wrote to Michel Barnier. In his letter, Gove criticised the EU for being too slow to implement systems to secure future residency rights for British citizens. Gove cited the UK’s ‘settled status’ scheme for EU citizens in the UK and expressed concerns that the EU would not meet its Withdrawal Agreement obligations in a timely fashion.

For those of us living in Spain, what will be required by the Spanish authorities in order for our status to be ‘settled’?

UK Ambassador Hugh Elliott and Sue Wilson

Here’s what we know so far. Spain’s existing identity card for foreigners, known as the ‘tarjeta de identidad de extranjero’ (TIE) will replace the current documentation for British residents.  

The TIE proves legal status and is issued to foreigners authorised to stay in Spain for longer than six months. Those Brits registering for the first time will be issued with a TIE; those holding existing residency documents will be able to swap these for the TIE.

To read the article in full head over to The Local. 

Lockdown in Spain

Lockdown in Spain

On 14 March 2020, Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez announced the lockdown to the nation, effectively banning people from leaving their homes except to go to work or buy essential supplies.

The ‘state of alert’, initially scheduled to last for 15 days, is reviewed on a fortnightly basis, and has and will be extended as appropriate. The Spanish government will continue to monitor the effectiveness of their lockdown measures, and further extensions will be considered, as and when necessary, to keep the public safe.

The lifting of restrictions will be phased in as appropriate, with the timing of each new phase being considered on a regional basis.

Read the STOP PRESS section for the latest updates as they happen. You can also find USEFUL LINKS at the bottom of the page. 

STOP PRESS

MAY 23: Foreign tourists can return to Spain from July

Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez today announced the latest government measures during the coronavirus crisis and confirmed that the virus reproduction rate is now at 0.20.

The tourist sector can now start preparing for the summer season with Spain being open to foreign tourist from July. Sánchez encouraged Spaniards to start planning their vacations and said tourism would return “in safe conditions”.

In addition, Sánchez confirmed that the Spanish football championship will recommence w/c 8 June.

Read more in El Pais here: https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-05-23/spanish-pm-foreign-tourists-will-be-able-to-return-to-spain-from-july.html

 

MAY 23: Lockdown restrictions loosened in municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants

New measures will take effect, regardless of which phase municipalities are currently in, as long as social distancing measures are observed:

 

 

  • bars and restaurants can open – capacity restricted to 40%
  • restrictions on exercising during scheduled timeslots will be lifted
  • outdoor markets can open – with restrictions on occupancy
  • churches can open – capacity restricted to 50%
  • funerals can be attended by 15 people indoors, 25 outdoors

For those municipalities already in Phase 1

  • meetings with friends can increase from 10 to 15 people
  • outdoor sports facilities can be used – maximum 30% capacity

Further details can be found, in Spanish, in Boletín Oficial del Estado No. 144, on the government website: https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2020/05/22/

 

MAY 22: New changes to lockdown phases effective from Monday 25 May

Health Minister, Salvador Illa, has announced further areas of Spain that will change phases on 25 May.

AREAS MOVING TO PHASE 1

  • Castilla y León: Ávila, Segovia, Soria, Burgos, Palencia, León, Zamora, Salamanca y Valladolid.
  • Cataluña: zonas sanitarias de ciudad de Barcelona, Metropolitana Sud y Metropolitana Nord.
  • Madrid

AREAS MOVING TO PHASE 2

  • Andalucía: Almería, Córdoba, Cádiz, Huelva, Jaén y Sevilla.
  • Aragón: Huesca, Zaragoza y Teruel.
  • Asturias
  • Islas Baleares: Ibiza, Menorca y Mallorca.
  • Canarias: Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura y La Palma.
  • Cantabria
  • Castilla-La Mancha: Guadalajara y Cuenca.
  • Cataluña: zonas sanitarias de Campo de Tarragona, Alto Pirineo y Arán y Las Tierras del Ebro.
  • Extremadura: Cáceres y Badajoz.
  • Galicia: Lugo, La Coruña, Orense y Pontevedra.
  • Murcia
  • Navarra
  • País Vasco: Guipúzcoa, Vizcaya y Álava
  • La Rioja
  • Ceuta
  • Melilla

The whole of the Valencian Community remains in Phase 1.

Source: https://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/Paginas/index.aspx

What’s allowed in Phase 2

  • Restaurants (those without terraces), theatres and cinemas can open but ‘with limitations’ – 1/3 capacity and with table service
  • Outdoor cultural events can be held with a maximum of 400 people – but only if seated and with social distancing measures in place.
  • Cultural gatherings indoors can be held with a maximum of 50
  • Historic visitor attractions (not theme parks) and monuments can open with 1/3 capacity, and for pre-arranged group or guided visits only.

For further information, read Spain in English here: https://www.spainenglish.com/2020/05/22/lifting-lockdown-spain-full-details-phases/

MAY 21: ‘State of alert’ extended until 7 June

Congress has narrowly voted in favour of a further 2-week extension to the ‘state of alert’, to 7 June.

It is expected that Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez will ask for one further and final extension after this one. The timing would then coincide with the national coronavirus de-escalation plan, which will be coming to an end, late June, across most of the country. 

On 20 May, the number of deaths recorded rose slightly to 110, after 3 consecutive days of less than 100 deaths. The number of new cases daily also continues to fall.

The Prime Minister told Congress, “The state of alarm will not last one day longer than necessary. Nobody has the right to throw away what we have all achieved together”.

For more on this story, read El Pais here: https://english.elpais.com/spanish_news/2020-05-20/spanish-pm-finds-support-in-congress-for-fifth-extension-to-state-of-alarm.html

MAY 20: The wearing of face masks is made mandatory from 21 May

The new rules regarding the compulsory wearing of face masks will come into effect on Thursday 21 May, except in certain circumstances.

See graphic from N332 (Road Safety Association) for further details or read the Boletín Oficial del Estado no. 142, from the Agencia Estatal here: https://boe.es/boe/dias/2020/05/20/

MAY 18: The wearing of face masks to become mandatory in public spaces

On Sunday May 17, Health Minister, Salvador Illa announced that the Ministry of Health will shortly make the wearing of face masks compulsory in public spaces. Until now, it has only been required to wear masks on public transport. Work is currently under way to draft a ministerial order, which will be published “in the coming days”.

It is likely that the wearing of masks will become obligatory in businesses and closed public spaces, but it is unclear as to whether they will be required on the street.

MAY 18: Relaxation of exercise restrictions in some areas

The current measures allocating exercise timetables to specific groups of people are likely to be relaxed in some areas. At present, municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants are exempt from these restrictions, and all residents are free to exercise at any time of day. They must, however, abide by other regulations, i.e. once a day only, maximum of 1 hour, within 1 km radius of their residence and with only one other family member.

These timetable restrictions will soon also be removed for municipalities with up to 10,000 inhabitants.

Further details will be announced shortly, but read here more in El Pais:
https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-05-17/spains-health-ministry-will-make-masks-obligatory-beyond-just-public-transport.html

MAY 17: Prime Minister Sánchez to ask Congress for one last extension to ´state of alert´

The Spanish PM made a televised address yesterday afternoon, announcing his intention to request one last extension, this time for one month. He said the de-escalation process would be completed in half of the country by the beginning of summer.

He stated that the lockdown was working and that “the path we are taking is the only one possible”.

For the full story, read the article in El Pais here: https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-05-16/spanish-pm-will-request-one-last-extension-of-the-state-of-alarm-this-time-for-a-month.html

MAY 16: Lockdown restriction changes – areas moving to new phases effective from 18 May

Health Minister, Salvador Illa, announced changes this weekend to the lockdown levels in certain areas. Further information will be available soon.

Phase 0 to Phase 1

  • Malaga
  • Granada
  • All of Valencian Community
  • Some areas of Castilla & León
  • All of Cataluña, except for Metropolitan Barcelona
  • Cuidad Real
  • Toledo
  • Cuenca

Phase 1 to Phase 2

  • Islands of Formentera, La Gomera, El Hierro & La Graciosa

Source: N332 – Road Safety Association

MAY 16: Non-essential travel restrictions extended for international travellers

Effective immediately, restrictions for non-essential travel have been extended until 15 June.

The order stipulates that the authorities may turn away EU citizens and their relatives for public health reasons, if they are not “registered as residents of Spain, or headed directly to their place of residence in another members state, Schengen-associated state or Andorra”.

The travel restrictions will therefore extend beyond the current termination date of the ´state of alert´.

Source: Boletín Oficial del Estado – No. 136, 15 May.

For further information (in Spanish), go to the official government website here: https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2020/05/15/

Or read more on this subject in El Pais here: https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-05-15/spain-to-extend-restrictions-on-international-travelers-until-june-15.html

May 12: Two-week quarantine for all overseas travellers from 15 May

The Spanish government has ordered a two-week quarantine for all overseas travellers entering the country in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Incoming travellers will have to remain indoors except to shop for essentials such as food and medicine.

The quarantine will remain in force throughout the duration of the “state of alert”, which is currently due to end on 24 May.

The measures apply to all travellers, including Spanish citizens returning to the country. Only lorry drivers, airplane and ship crews, cross-border workers and health staff who are entering Spain to work will be exempt.

Read more on this story from El Pais here: https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-05-12/spain-to-introduce-14-day-quarantine-for-international-travelers.html

MAY 11: British Embassy provides updates re Phase 1 de-escalation measures

As of today, many parts of Spain are moving into Phase 1, while others remain in Phase 0. The timetables & existing rules for walks & exercise remain in place during both phases, but regional governments may introduce some changes.

One important rule change is regarding travelling in private vehicles. Those who live in the same residence will now be able to travel in the same car, occupying all of the seats, & without the need to wear masks.

Please see the infographics for further details but note that these do not include all measures. Full details can be found on the Spanish government website here: https://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/covid-19/Paginas/index.aspx

For further details direct from the British Embassy, go to their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BritsInSpain/

MAY 9: Spanish government announce areas of Spain that will implement Phase 1 next week

From Monday 11 May, selected areas will implement Phase 1 of de-escalation measures, expected to last for two weeks. In some regions, the designated areas have been selected based on “health zones” rather than provinces. Travel outside of your province will not be permitted.

Those areas not selected will remain in Phase 0 for the time being. Further announcements will be made in due course.

For further details, in Spanish, read the Agencia Estatal ‘Boletín Oficial del Estado´ here: 
https://www.boe.es/diario_boe/txt.php?id=BOE-A-2020-4911

Or read the article – “As half of Spain moves to Phase 1 of coronavirus deescalation, what will change?” – in El País here: 
https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-05-09/as-half-of-spain-moves-to-phase-1-of-coronavirus-deescalation-what-will-change.html

MAY 6: State of Alert extended until May 24

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has today secured a fourth extension to the state of alert. He warned that a further extension of ‘several more weeks’ would be needed to see Spain through the four-stage de-escalation process. Sánchez stressed the need to limit freedom of movement in order to defeat the virus, saying that it would be a ‘grave irresponsibility, an absolute and unforgivable error’ to end the state of alert too soon.

 

MAY 2: Prime Minister announces the lifting of some lockdown restrictions, effective May 4

  • Small businesses, such as bookstores, garages, hardware stores, clothing or shoe repair workshops, hairdressers, will be able to open with the following conditions:

⇒ Only by prior appointment
⇒ One customer per employee only
⇒ Special timetable for seniors (to coincide with their allotted exercise time slots)

  • Restaurant and bars may open for takeaway food only, with orders being placed over the phone/on the internet
  • Face masks will be obligatory on public transport -14.5 million masks will be distributed via transport hubs, municipalities & social institutions
  • Given the low level of infections, the Spanish islands of Formentera, El Hierro, La Graciosa & La Gomera will see further relaxation of lockdown measures

The prime minister also announced his intention to request a further two-week extension to the ‘state of alert’.

For further information, read El Pais in English here: https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-05-02/spanish-pm-face-masks-will-be-obligatory-on-public-transport-from-monday.html

Or read El Mundo in Spanish here: https://www.elmundo.es/espana/2020/05/02/5ead5b22fdddff28048b45ce.html

 

MAY 1: Full conditions of relaxation of lockdown restrictions regarding exercise – effective from May 2 2020

Translated from BOE – https://www.boe.es/eli/es/o/2020/04/30/snd380

Article 2. Movements allowed for the practice of physical activity.

  1. People aged 14 and older may circulate on roads or spaces for public use for the practice of physical activities permitted by this order, in accordance with article 7.1(e), (g) and (h) of Royal Decree 463/2020 of 14 March declaring the state of alarm for the management of the health crisis situation caused by COVID-19.
  2. For the purposes of this order, the non-professional practice of any individual sport that does not require contact with third parties, as well as walks, is permitted.
    Such activities may be carried out once a day and during the time slots provided for in Article 5.
  3. During walks you can go out accompanied by one person with whom you live. However, those persons who have to be accompanied may also go with a person employed by a care home or regular caregiver.

Non-professional individual sports that do not require contact can only be performed individually. However, persons who have to be accompanied may go out with a person with whom they live, a person employed by a care home or a regular caregiver.

  1. Walks shall be taken no more than one kilometre from the home. This limitation shall not apply to the non-professional practice of any individual sport, this being permitted within the municipality where you reside.
  2. Persons who have symptoms or are in home isolation due to a diagnosis for COVID-19 or who are in a period of home quarantine because they have had contact with any person with symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19 may not make use of the permissions contained in paragraph 1. In addition, residents of senior social health centres may not make use of such permission.
  3. The movements referred to in this Article do not affect those generally permitted in Article 7 of Royal Decree 463/2020, March 14, as well as under Order SND/370/2020, of April 25, on the conditions under which outings by children must take place during the health crisis caused by COVID-19.

Article 3. Requirements for avoiding contagion

  1. During the practice of the physical activities authorised under this order, individuals must maintain a distance of at least two metres from others.
  2. Avoid busy areas and spaces where people may gather.
  3. As far as possible, the physical activity permitted under this order must be carried out continuously, without stopping unnecessarily in streets or public spaces. When it is necessary to stop in the street or a public space, due to the physical condition of the individual, this pause should only be for the time strictly necessary.
  4. All the prevention and hygiene measures related to COVID-19 recommended by the health authorities must be observed.
  5. To enable persons to maintain safe distances, local authorities may redistribute the use of public spaces to favour pedestrians and cyclists, in that order.

Article 4. Permitted spaces.

  1. Persons may circulate on any road or public space, including authorised natural spaces and green areas, provided these respect the limits established in this order.
  2. It is not permitted to enter closed sports facilities to practice the activities allowed under this order.
  3. It is not permitted to use a motorised vehicle or public transport to travel to streets or public spaces in order to practice the activities allowed under this order.

Article 5. Time slots.

  1. The following time slots are established for the practice of the activities allowed under article 2.2:
  2. a) Individual sports and walks may only take place between 6 am and 10 am and 8 pm and 11 pm.
  3. b) Persons who need to be accompanied and persons over 70 may practice individual sport and walk between 10 am and 12 pm and between 7 pm and 8 pm. Persons over 70 may be accompanied by a person between the ages of 14 and 70 who lives with them.
  4. The time slots indicated in this order will not apply to municipalities, or smaller, separate populated areas within a municipality forming an administrative area, which have a population of 5,000 or less, where the activities allowed under this order may take place between 6 am and 11 pm.
  5. Exceptionally, these time slots do not apply when, for duly accredited medical reasons, physical activity is recommended in another period, or because the persons accompanying older people, minors or the disabled cannot do so within the allotted time slot.

El Pais Interactive map: How far can adults go for a walk under Spain’s relaxed confinement measures? https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-05-01/interactive-map-how-far-can-adults-go-for-a-walk-under-spains-relaxed-confinement-measures.html

 

APRIL 30: Relaxation of lockdown restrictions regarding exercise, effective from 2/5/20

The Spanish health authorities today announced new rules for outdoor activity. Health Minister, Salvador Illa, said that individuals can go out once a day, within their own municipality of residence, without making contact with third parties. Sports are also allowed as long as practiced individually.

Adults will be able to walk alone, or with one other family member, for up to an hour, and within one kilometre radius of their residence.

  • Walks and sport for healthy adults: 6.00-10.00 and 20.00-23.00
  • Walks for dependent persons (with a caregiver) and over-70s: 10.00-12.00 and 19.00-20.00
  • Exercise with children (under current conditions): 12.00-19.00

In municipalities with less than 5000 inhabitants, time restrictions will not apply, though all activities must take place between 6.00 and 23.00.

 

APRIL 28: Prime Minister announces de-escalation plan

In a press conference today, Pedro Sánchez announced that the Council of Ministers have approved a de-escalation plan for lockdown.

There will be no fixed dates for certain phases of de-escalation, but the situation will be reviewed every 2 weeks, & each new phase will last for a minimum of 2 weeks.

The phases will be the same in every region/area/territory of Spain but will be implemented at different speeds, dependent on the evolution of the virus. If all goes to plan, the “new normality” could happen by the end of June.

For further details, read here: https://english.elpais.com/spanish_news/2020-04-28/spanish-government-will-avoid-setting-dates-for-deescalation-measures.html

 

APRIL 26: Spain may allow confined citizens out for walks on May 2, says Prime Minister Sánchez

From today, rules are being relaxed allowing children under 14 to accompany a parent on a short walk.

At an evening news conference on April 25, the prime minister stated that if contagion figures continue to go down, lockdown rules would be relaxed even further. 

👩‍👧‍👧👨‍👧‍👧Las niñas y niños menores de 14 años ya pueden salir a pasear. La norma es fácil de aplicar con la fórmula de los 4 1⃣:1⃣adulto1⃣ vez 1⃣ hora1⃣ kmHazlo con responsabilidad y cumpliendo con las medidas de higiene y distancia de seguridad.#EsteVirusLoParamosUnidos

Posted by Ministerio de Sanidad on Sunday, 26 April 2020

Sánchez said, “If the evolution of the pandemic keeps moving in a positive manner, starting on May 2 outings will be allowed for individual activity and for walks with the people that we live with.”

For the full story in El Pais, click here: https://english.elpais.com/spanish_news/2020-04-25/spain-may-allow-confined-citizens-out-for-walks-on-may-2-says-pm.html

 

APRIL 22: Congress authorises a third extension to the “state of alert”

As expected, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez gained approval for a further extension to the lockdown period, in a bid to combat the spread of COVID-19. The special measures will remain in place until May 9. Sánchez warned that the de-escalation of coronavirus confinement measures would be “slow and gradual”, and that the “general confinement will not be lifted until we are ready.”

Read the full story in El Pais here: https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-04-23/spanish-pm-secures-support-to-extend-state-of-alarm-after-fierce-opposition-criticism-in-congress.html

From Sunday 26, rules will be relaxed regarding children under 14, who will now be allowed to go shopping with their parents, and for short walks.

For further information about the rule change regarding minors, read The Local article here: https://www.thelocal.es/20200421/what-we-know-about-spains-rules-on-children-leaving-the-house-during-lockdown

 

APRIL 15: Congress reserves April 22 for a possible further extension of the state of alert

The Council of Ministers will discuss the possibility of a further extension of the lockdown period when they meet next week. Any proposal put forward for a further 2 weeks would then need approval by parliament and would extend the lockdown until May 10.

For the full story (in Spanish) from La Vanguardia, click here: https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20200414/48510213795/coronavuros-prorroga-estado-alarma-11-mayo.html

 

APRIL 13: Some lockdown restrictions lifted

Spain’s non-essential workers, in sectors such as construction and industry, return to work, restoring the level of lockdown to the earlier level of the first 2 weeks. Strict measures are still in place for the vast majority.

 

APRIL 10: Congress backs PM’s request to extend state of alarm in Spain until April 26, with a further 15 days likely

“Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez secured approval from the Congress of Deputies on Thursday for his decision to extend the state of alarm in Spain and current confinement measures until April 26. The move, which will keep residents of Spain mostly locked down in their homes for an additional two weeks from the previous deadline of April 12, is aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

For the full story from El Pais, click here: https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-04-10/congress-backs-pms-request-to-extend-confinement-measures-in-spain-until-april-26-with-a-further-15-days-likely.html

We will endeavour to keep everyone updated with the latest information regarding the rules of lockdown. Please check back regularly for further information & advice.

We have also provided advice and suggestions on how to stay safe, healthy, physically and mentally, and how to keep yourself busy and entertain the family during this time of crisis. For more information and useful links, click right

Stay home…

stay safe…

& look out for

each other!

USEFUL LINKS:

Worldometers monitor the number of cases & death tolls, by country: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME) COVID-19 death toll projections for Spain: https://covid19.healthdata.org/spain

For updates about the lockdown rules – Boletín Oficial del Estado: https://www.boe.es/index.php?lang=en

The Spanish government website has all the latest news from Spain, in English: https://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/lang/en/Paginas/index.aspx

N322 Road Safety Association has a wealth of information about lockdown measures on their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/DrivingSpain/

European Commission coronavirus home page: https://ec.europa.eu/health/coronavirus_en

WHO specific information on Spain: http://www.euro.who.int/en/countries/spain

WHO specific information on UK: http://www.euro.who.int/en/countries/united-kingdom-of-great-britain-and-northern-ireland

Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs & Social Welfare: https://www.mscbs.gob.es/en/home.htm

Spanish Ministry of the Environment: https://www.miteco.gob.es/es/ministerio/medidas-covid19/

UK Foreign Office travel advice for Spain: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain

Brits in Spain (British Embassy in Madrid) Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BritsInSpain/

Brits in Spain website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain#coronavirus

Check back frequently for updates on the latest lockdown measures, as new material will be added regularly. Thanks!

Coronavirus is the perfect scapegoat, even for Brexit

Coronavirus is the perfect scapegoat, even for Brexit

Sue Wilson analyses the latest round of post-Brexit trade negotiations and the obvious need for an extension to the transition period.

A further round of trade negotiations between the UK and EU ended on Friday, without any noticeable progress.

The talks were described as “tetchy” and “disruptive” and Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, said the UK was still wanting the “best of both worlds”.

Midweek, an unnamed EU source again raised the possibility of an extension to the transition period.

The source claimed that the UK could still secure an extension, even if it didn’t ask for one. All that’s required is for both sides to agree to extend, rather than requiring a formal request from the UK. Unsurprisingly, the UK government is sticking to its position that the transition will end on 31 December, with or without a trade deal.

Although the talks have largely been over key issues, such as fishing policy or maintaining a level playing field on standards, the rights of citizens were also discussed.

Against the background of legal action by the EU against the UK government over EU citizens’ rights, the minister for the cabinet office, Michael Gove, hit back on Thursday. In a letter to European Commission vice president, Maros Sefcovic, Gove said there was a “serious risk” that the EU would be in breach of its obligations under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA).

You can read the article in full at The Local.

UK needed an exit strategy, they got another slogan!

UK needed an exit strategy, they got another slogan!

Sue Wilson compares the mixed messages from Downing Street with the clear road map issued by the Spanish government.

This week, Spain takes another tentative step towards lifting its lockdown restrictions. Many regions are entering the new “Phase 1”, with further freedoms granted to the 51 percent of residents affected.

The relaxing of lockdown here echoes the efforts of other countries across Europe. Governments are considering what steps to take, and when. 

They are coming under increased pressure from opposition parties, business, media and public to juggle the demands of economic wealth versus public health. In some cases, not least in Britain, protecting livelihoods seems more of a priority than protecting lives.

Much as we might want a return to “business as usual”, it’s hard to see how that could happen anytime soon. We must adjust to new ways of doing everything, while remaining conscious of the health threat. As Boris Johnson might say, we must “stay alert” to the dangers.

While the message from the Spanish government about the lifting of restrictions was clear, the message from the UK government was not. For several days before Johnson’s Sunday evening announcement, the British media was full of the ‘news’ that lockdown measures were about to ease.

Mixed messaging from the British government during the coronavirus crisis is nothing new. Last weekend was no different and required minister after minister to downplay media speculation.  It seems talk of additional freedoms had been somewhat exaggerated.

Word had spread that the government was dropping its “stay at home” message, to be replaced with the new slogan, “stay alert” – whatever that’s supposed to mean. A damage limitation exercise was then required to persuade the British public to stay home during the bank holiday weekend.

You can read the article in full in The Local. 

Mixed emotions on stepping out …..

Mixed emotions on stepping out …..

As I stepped outside my front door on Saturday, after weeks of lockdown, it was with mixed emotions. Like millions of people across Spain, I was eagerly anticipating my first walk, having been no further than the rubbish bins for seven weeks. Sharing the experience with my husband was a bonus.

On a beautiful spring morning, in our beautiful village, the feeling of freedom was one I had expected. The feeling of nervousness was one I had not.

Lockdown has caused many of us to consider what we’ve most been looking forward to once restrictions are lifted. The simple pleasures in life – such as taking a stroll with my other half – rank high on my list. It never occurred to me that going for a walk might make me concerned for our safety.

 

The ways in which we’ve come to terms with lockdown – both the implementation and de-escalation – vary a lot according to our age, personal circumstance and even personality.

Those living in flats will have experienced a very different lockdown to those with gardens. The experience of city dwellers will not reflect that of those living in the countryside. Families will have reacted differently to those isolated and alone.

You can read the article in full at The Local.

Bremainers Ask ….. Ian Dunt

Bremainers Ask ….. Ian Dunt

Ian Dunt is editor of Politics.co.uk, author of Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now? and a host on the Remainiacs podcast. His new book, How To Be A Liberal, is out later this year.

 

Ruth Woodhouse :Do you feel that the current coronavirus situation is bringing countries together or, especially in the case of the UK, driving them further apart?

This is a fascinating question. The reality is it does both. Taking the downside first: borders are closed, all over the world. It’s hard to get a more obvious example of national distancing than that. And on a less obvious level, some of the squabbles seen in Europe this month over the financial response, for instance on mutualised debt, have brought back the euro zone crisis demons and revealed that deep split between fiscally conservative countries and the rest. That has the capacity to do much more damage to Europe than Brexit has.

But there are reasons to be positive too. All countries face the same threat and share the same purpose under Covid-19. It is only by seeing what works in other countries and emulating them that we can succeed. So there is a chance here, if we take it, to make the case for internationalism – for countries working together to share expertise, equipment, and evidence.

Roy Stonebridge: It seems almost inevitable that we will arrive at the end of 2020, in the midst of a virus led global recession. How could UK possibly contemplate any changes to the trading arrangements with the EU in such circumstances?

Well if the government was half-way sane it would not consider this. But then, if it was halfway sane, it wouldn’t have got us in this position in the first place. People often assume that No.10 will be sensible if the crunch comes, but pretty much all the evidence of the last few years suggests that’s unlikely.

However, there are a few differences this time. Some leading Brexiters have expressed support for extension. To be honest, probably the best way of achieving an extension is for Remainers to not demand it. If it gets folded into the culture war, it’ll be lost.

One thing is true though: you can judge the government’s Covid-19 response by the Brexit extension. If they do not request an extension, they are doing Covid-19 wrong. This disease should be demanding all their time. If they have any capacity for anything else, they have not understood the magnitude of it.

Christine Jones:If it hadn’t been for Brexit, what might you have been doing for the last 4 years?

Oh God. The lost opportunities. More time down the pub, more time reading books, less time reading about the allocation of fish stocks in the European quota system.

Ian with Gina Miller

I used to write about other liberal issues: Drug policy reform, free speech, immigration, civil liberties, prison policy. I miss that. Not enough journalists cover it, so when you drift off, you feel you’re letting the side down. But unfortunately, there’s no chance of getting back to it any time soon. The nationalist wave is not receding. And anyone who believes in liberalism, reason and internationalism owes it to themselves to stand up against it. To be honest, as long as we can hold our head up high in a few years’ time and say that we played our part in trying to stop this thing, we’ll be able to consider it time well spent.

Tracy Rolfe: What impact do you think Keir Starmer’s election as Labour leader will have on our medium- to long-term chances of rejoining the EU?

Potentially significant. He is electable. That’s not to say he will be elected, but at least he can be, which is more than we can say about the last Labour leader. He is also a Remainer. He has done enough, over the last few years, to earn our trust on that. If he sees an opportunity to rejoin, he will take it.

But the best thing we can do to make that happen is to lay off him. There should be no pressure for any attempt to rejoin in the short term. We should be aiming to make sure rejoin is a manifesto commitment in the election after next. And that can be done.

As my colleague on Remainiacs, Naomi Smith, says: ‘The first rule of Rejoin club is you do not talk about Rejoin club.’

Remainiacs

Lisa Ryan Burton: Do you think Keir Starmer will face the same level of criticism from the British media that Jeremy Corbyn faced, or will his background and character make it much more difficult for the press to paint him in such a negative way?

He will face much less. There are very simple reasons for this. He does not seem to actively dislike Britain. He has basic competence. This seems obvious, but the previous leader was seemingly incapable of it.

However, he will still be attacked. The press are largely – outside of the Guardian, the Times and the FT – cheerleaders for Boris Johnson. That won’t change. They’ll look to undermine Starmer. If he’s clever though, he can sidestep this. And the way to do it is to speak over their heads, utilise the opportunities offered by impartiality rules on broadcasters, not treat the media as a tribal enemy, and triangulate the government position – try to turn the debate on issues in which you appeal to their base in order to expand the opportunities you have in your own territory.

Sue Wilson and Ian Dunt

Stewart Luscott-Evans: Has the coronavirus pandemic changed your views about Brexit in any way, or has it reinforced your beliefs?

Neither really. Brexit still seems a bloody silly idea. But it’s not like the EU response has been so magnificent that it particularly helps in the other direction either.

If anything it makes me worry about how the EU handles its own Covid-19 crisis. It must do better this time than it did in the bond crisis. It must demonstrate solidarity, the basic principle on which it is based. There’ve been a few examples of that – Macron’s rhetoric, Merkel’s use of equipment provision. But the efforts by Germany and the Netherlands to kill off attempts at really broad-ranging mutualisation of debt measures doesn’t bode well. It’s not enough to smuggle compromises into haphazard initiatives which go under the radar. It needs big visible measures that don’t just work, but are seen to work.

For decades now, national leaders have been able to claim credit for the good things the EU does, and blame it for whatever they don’t like. The EU facilitates this by stuffing big projects into boringly titled stability mechanisms and the like. That has to stop. They need to fix the policy. And they need to fix the way the policy is presented. The severity of the crisis provides a moment in which to achieve that, in a really eye-opening and effective way. I hope they take it. Although I must say that the early indications are not good.

Many thanks to Ian for taking part. Next month we talk to Jessica Simor QC.