British Embassy Updates

British Embassy Updates

Bremain in Spain are proud to work closely with the British Ambassador & Embassy staff to keep you informed about life in Spain.

Throughout the Brexit process, the Embassy have been providing regular updates on our rights in Spain, and the necessary measures to take to ensure those rights are protected. We are grateful for all their efforts on our behalf & for sharing any developments promptly & efficiently.

We will pass on any new information as it becomes available, so please check in regularly for all the latest news.

Right: Chair Sue Wilson with British Ambassador Hugh Elliott

Sue Wilson Embassy

From an article by Bremain Chair, Sue Wilson, in The Local Newspaper, the Ambassador, Hugh Elliott told us:

“I know that, because of the suspension of residency appointments during the current state of emergency, many UK nationals are concerned about their ability to obtain the correct documentation before 31 December. I want to reassure people on two points. If you already have the green residency certificate, your core rights are protected and it remains a valid document, even after the end of the transition period. If you don’t yet have your green residency certificate there is, likewise, no need for alarm. We continue to advise people to get an appointment as soon as you can. However, as long as you are living in Spain and can prove that you satisfy the legal conditions of residence (i.e. sufficient income and access to healthcare) by 31 December 2020, your rights are assured even if you are not able to get the physical document before the end of the year.” 

Read the full article “What will Brits in Spain need in order to feel settled?” here

 

The Embassy welcome direct contact from members of the public, with general or more specific, personal enquiries. Please use this LINK to make direct contact as it will generate an online form & provide a reference number.

You can also contact the consulate in your area – a list of consulates can be found here

You will receive a direct response in due course.

The Embassy provide regular updates, including live Q & A sessions, on their Facebook page here

The Embassy website has a wealth of information on a variety of topics, including details of how things will change after the end of Brexit transition period here

You can also follow them on Twitter: @BritsliveSpain

Need help with applying for residencia?

The British government are funding a number of organisations in Spain to help struggling UK nationals apply for legal residency. The United Kingdom Nationals Support Fund Project (UKNSFP) particularly aims to help the most vulnerable Brits deal with Spanish bureaucracy.

See the table below for details of which organisation to contact for help, support & advice in your area. You can select the logo below to take you directly to their website.

residencia
BebeLia
Age in Spain
IOM

Update from Embassy 23rd September 2020 HMA video for UK Nationals

With 100 days until the end of the Transition Period, HMA Hugh Elliott has recorded a message for UK Nationals – providing reassurance about citizens’ rights under the Withdrawal Agreement and reinforcing the importance of being legally resident. 

Updates from Embassy on 22nd September 2020 re potential bank account closures

Thousands of British citizens living in the EU have been contacted by UK banks warning of potential account closures due to Brexit.

Following concerns raised by members, Bremain contacted the Embassy for an urgent update.

Please open or download the PDF HERE or select image right for the Embassy’s swift response.

Banks

To receive the latest updates direct from the Embassy, we recommend you sign up for the Embassy email alerts. You can select your preferred frequency of alert here

Updates from Embassy on 18th September 2020

Read updates from the British Embassy regarding:

    • The Internal Market Bill
    • TIE
    • Driving Licences
    • Dates for LIVE Facebook events
Embassy Spain Advice

For details open or download the PDF HERE or select image above.

 

On Friday 11 September, Bremain in Spain Chair, Sue Wilson took part in an Embassy Stakeholder meeting. Topics discussed included:

  • Internal Market Bill
  • TIE applications
  • Communications
  • Stakeholders input
  • UKNSF government funded support programmes
  • Healthcare

For more information, download the PDF HERE or select image right.

Living in Spain after Brexit

A few outstanding queries have yet to be answered, but on receipt of any further updates from the Embassy, we will pass on any additional information.

 

Just when we Brits in Spain believed we could relax and feel secure ……..

Just when we Brits in Spain believed we could relax and feel secure ……..

Sue Wilson from Bremain in Spain takes a look at the latest developments in Westminster and how it has sent shock waves through the British community in Spain.
There have been many days since the Brexit referendum when I’ve felt like I was doing a dance, with unfamiliar steps.

One day, it was the Brexit Hokey Cokey – in, out, shake it all about. The next, it was the Withdrawal Agreement two-step – one step forward, two steps back, spin around till you’re dizzy and confused.

Anyone worried about their rights after Brexit will be familiar with those feelings of confusion, fear, anxiety and exasperation.

It seems that, as soon as we start to believe that our rights are secured, the actions of the British government throw everything out of the window.

During a week when we hoped for some progress in the Brexit negotiations, the UK government dropped a bombshell in the shape of the Internal Market Bill. Long story short, the government is unhappy with the contents of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and is aiming to break its international treaty commitments. Not to worry though – it will do so in a “specific and limited way”.

Withdrawal Agreement

Despite insisting that the WA was an excellent deal, requiring little or no scrutiny from parliament, the government has now read the small print. It seems that many Conservative MPs only voted for the deal on the understanding that they could unravel it later. This is exactly what the government is trying to do now. Having signed the deal and winning an election on the back of it, the prime minister is reneging on his international treaty commitments.

Unsurprisingly, the EU’s reaction was swift and robust. Following an “extraordinary” meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee, EU Commission Vice President, Maros Sefcovic, said: “The timely and full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government agreed to, and which the UK Houses of Parliament ratified, less than a year ago – is a legal obligation. The European Union expects the letter and spirit of this agreement to be fully respected.” He went on to say that undermining the international treaty would risk the ongoing negotiations.

The EU also demanded that the UK government withdraw aspects of the bill that override the WA, giving them until the end of September to rectify the situation. Failure will risk termination of the negotiations and the prospect of leaving the EU without a trade deal.

You can read the full article over at The Local

We live in Spain and our rights are safe in the hands of Spanish authorities

We live in Spain and our rights are safe in the hands of Spanish authorities

As post-Brexit trade talks stall, it’s unsurprising that Brits throughout Europe are again feeling anxious about their futures. But for those in Spain, there is reason to be optimistic, writes Sue Wilson of Bremain in Spain.

Following the seventh round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels in August, there’s been little to report and no progress. The main issues preventing agreement remain the same – fisheries, a level playing field and state aid. The only change is in the amount of time remaining to resolve those issues, and the political rhetoric.

French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, recently said that the UK government was deliberately stalling the negotiations with its “intransigent and unrealistic attitude”. Downing Street responded by saying that the EU was “making it unnecessarily difficult” for post-Brexit trade talks to progress. A source close to lead negotiator, David Frost, said that he had “made clear to Barnier that as things stand, he would have to recommend to Boris that we go for no deal”.

With the endless chest-thumping and finger-pointing, it’s unsurprising that Brits throughout Europe are again feeling anxious about their futures. Uncertainty is always unsettling, but there is a familiarity to the situation we find ourselves in. In many respects, we’ve been here before.

In 2019, we were worried about the prospect of leaving the EU with no deal, no rights and no benefits. Thankfully, that worst-case scenario was narrowly avoided at the 11th hour, but the talk of no deal has returned.

This time around, we do have a deal – the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) – that protects many, if not all, of our treasured rights. Yet there’s still the threat of failing to agree a trade deal. According to Michel Barnier, a negotiated deal is becoming “unlikely”, thanks to the UK government’s unwillingness to compromise.

Unsurprisingly, the idea of losing EU citizenship rights stirs anger, sadness and fear in British citizens in Spain. We moved here in good faith, secure in the knowledge – or so we thought – that our rights would apply for life. We’re more familiar with those rights now than ever before, because many of them are being taken away. We took the benefits of EU membership for granted: not anymore.

However, one thing surely causes more anxiety than the loss of rights already removed, and that’s the fear of losing the rights already secured by the Withdrawal Agreement.

You can read the article in full over at The Local

Bremainers ask ……. Jonathan Lis

Bremainers ask ……. Jonathan Lis

Jonathan read English at the University of Cambridge and then completed a Masters degree in social sciences at the London School of Economics. After a period of teaching – and training to be an actor – he went to work for an MEP at the European Parliament in 2012, focusing on foreign affairs and human rights. His particular areas of focus were EU enlargement, engagement with the Balkans and post-conflict resolution, and the Western Sahara. He then worked at the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organisation, where he advocated for, among others, anti-slavery activists in Mauritania, the Uyghurs, and the people of Abkhazia. In 2015 he returned to Britain and began working on the campaign to remain in the EU, writing a report on Brexit and the Commonwealth. After the referendum, he became Deputy Director of the think tank and campaign group British Influence, working for a soft Brexit, then a referendum, and now the closest possible engagement with the EU. He has published almost 200 comment pieces for, among others, the Guardian, Prospect and Washington Post, and regularly appears as a political commentator on broadcasters including the BBC, Sky, Al Jazeera and LBC. 

How soon could the UK realistically re-join the EU, and do you think there will be an appetite in the country to make that happen?

I would love this as much as all of you, and even in the days after the general election I thought there could be a new movement to rejoin. That quickly proved unrealistic. Rejoining is at least a decade away and probably longer. Brexit must fail and be seen to fail, and even if it does, there’s no guarantee of a public appetite to rejoin. People accept the status quo, move on and don’t necessarily want to refight old battles. Certainly, there’d be no chance whatsoever if a future government had to commit to join the euro or Schengen. We also don’t know how the EU will look or think in a few years’ time. The virus has demonstrated that the world is completely unpredictable, and events are out of our control: things can turn on their head in a matter of weeks or months. Having said all that, the work to prepare for that movement needs to start now, and in fact already has. If and when there is a space in British politics to rejoin the EU, we need to be able to hit the ground running. The public may also be a lot more pro-European than they are now. Attitudes don’t last forever. There is no reason why the public in the 2030s can’t be as enthusiastic as they were in the 1970s and 80s. So don’t be despondent. Every bit of campaigning and activism now is like an investment for the future – even if it doesn’t always feel like it at the time!

How will Brexit affect you personally, and how do you mitigate against it?

The irony of Brexit is that, in the main, it stands to hurt Leave voters more than Remain voters. People with more money can more easily shoulder higher food prices, for example, and more expensive holidays. If you have a number of qualifications you will still probably be able to work and live in the EU. I am desperately sad about the confiscation of my rights with regard to free movement, but materially and professionally I don’t think my life will change that much. I don’t work in one of the countless goods and services sectors that could be brought to its knees. For me Brexit is emotional and political and about the country as a whole – who we really are, who we want to be and where we are going. This, for me, is the main source of turmoil and sadness. We mitigate it by battling every day for a country and world we can be proud of, in small steps and large. We oppose people with facts, don’t sink to the level of Brexit’s leaders, and treat everyone with kindness and respect. Ultimately, in spite of everything happening in the world, we must never lose sight of our personal happiness and well-being and those of the people we love and care about.

 

With the passing of the date that would ‘allow’ Britain to extend the transition period, if the U.K Government subsequently asked for an extension, would the EU grant one?

The short answer is yes. My basic argument throughout this process has been that the EU will not throw us off the cliff unless we insist on jumping. The long answer is, it’s not that simple. 

You would need to amend the treaty or find some clever legal trick to accomplish the same result. That would meet real reluctance from an EU that has endured quite enough of our nonsense already, but I suspect they would do it. The real problem is that we are led, in Britain, by fundamentalists who see any such extension as wartime surrender. I suspect the most likely outcome is a deal where the UK works very hard to present climbdown as victory, but that won’t involve extending the transition in any formal sense.

Where do pro-European campaigns go from here?

As I said in my earlier answer, we keep on fighting for what we believe in: an open, inclusive, pro-immigration Britain which wants to cooperate and coordinate with our European neighbours economically, culturally and politically. We extol the benefits of harmonising with the EU and, in a broader sense, working as part of a big team. When the government harms the national interest by turning inwards, we oppose it and campaign against it. This is the longest of long games and we act strategically. We don’t call for rejoining now; we show how being in the EU benefits us all and how Brexit is harming us. We lay the seeds and groundwork for a better future and a political movement. Eventually, we hope, the public will realise that we’re better off in. Even if they don’t, we never stop arguing for the Britain we want to see.

After numerous public scandals involving members of the Tory Government, and now with release of the Russian Report, do you think public support will ever say enough is enough?

I absolutely do. The biggest mistake the Tories make is to believe themselves infallible and untouchable. They are not. I said in May that the Cummings scandal could be a turning point, and still think that could prove the case. The government has lost the most valuable currency it has: trust. Once you lose that, it is almost impossible to recover. They now stagger from crisis to crisis in a way unseen since the last few years of John Major’s premiership. Coupled with the leadership of Keir Starmer, who has won broad approval in polling and from the centre-right media, the Tories could be in trouble. You never write them off, of course, and the next few years could be as unpredictable as the last – but if they continue with the current level of complacency and incompetence they could be in for a very rude shock.

What odds would you give for the survival of the Union over the next ten years?

Very low. This story could be as big as Brexit but the Westminster establishment is barely even thinking about it. I think Wales and Northern Ireland will still be in the UK for the foreseeable future, but Scotland has now checked out of the Union emotionally and could well follow politically.

Since 2016 the UK government has disregarded the Scottish government, parliament and people at every turn, making an obscene mockery of the 2014 pre-referendum ‘vow’ that Scotland and its views would be taken seriously. A greater proportion of Scots voted to be a part of the EU than the UK, and a large number of Scots Remainers have now fully thrown in their lot with the independence movement. That is not to say that independence would be easy, and the hard Scottish-English border will be the key issue of any new referendum campaign. But I do think the UK government will have to permit that campaign. The SNP will likely win the 2021 parliamentary elections on a clear manifesto pledge to hold the vote, just as they won the general elections in Scotland in 2019 and 2017. It is hard to see what more the Scottish people have to do to signal their approval for the SNP’s main policy, and – watching what happened in Catalonia – the UK government cannot say no forever.

You worked with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, working with marginalised nations and peoples. Did you always want to be involved in human rights and journalism or was it a natural progression?

I have always been fascinated by both human rights and journalism but actually came to both careers by accident. In 2012 I began working on a short-term basis for an MEP who was part of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Committee. That turned into a long-term job and brought me into regular contact with human rights defenders from around the world. I drafted the European Parliament’s report on human rights in the Sahel and Western Sahara, which also brought home how valued the EU was on the international stage. Working for a human rights NGO was the obvious next step after I left the parliament, and if it hadn’t been for Brexit I’d still probably be in that field. I’ve always loved writing, and penned a few opinion blogs years ago, but again fell into journalism mostly by accident. In 2016 and 2017 some publications asked me to write about my work on the single market and post-Brexit foreign policy, and that set me off!

Read Jonathan’s latest article on Boris Johnson in the Byline Times.

Many thanks to Jonathan for taking part.

Our guest for September’s Bremainers Ask feature is philosopher and prominent anti-Brexit campaigner A.C. Grayling. His 2017 book Democracy and Its Crisis examines the threats facing representative democracy today in the light of the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum.