The view from Spain: British migrants fear Brexit impact

The view from Spain: British migrants fear Brexit impact

Costa del Sol – There are an estimated 1.3 million British expatriates living in the European Union. The greatest number live in Spain. Officially, 310,000 Britons live there, although this figure is believed to be a third of the actual number.

Al Jazeera spoke to British people living in Costa del Sol and in the Valencian Community about their home country’s impending divorce from the EU.

‘My biggest concern is losing freedom of movement’

Molly Williams, 24, volunteer

“My biggest concern around Brexit is losing freedom of movement, which is the right that my family and I have used throughout our lives, as I have lived, travelled, worked and studied across Europe.

Read article in Aljazeera

Bremainers Ask….. Seb Dance MEP

Bremainers Ask….. Seb Dance MEP

This month, Seb Dance MEP kindly agreed to answer a range of questions put forward by Bremain members. Seb is a Labour MEP for the London region and a member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. He’s been an MEP since 2014, and is a strong supporter of remaining in the European Union. Seb is also a major proponent for a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal – he puts his case forward in this article.

Pat Kennedy: “When we have managed to stop Brexit, which politician do you think would be the most capable of bringing the country back together and healing the wounds?”

Seb Dance: “The person who brings our country back together after Brexit will be an individual who has learned the lessons that the Brexit debate has taught us: That it serves to be honest with the public rather than trying to sell them a fantasy; that politicians must listen to – and engage with – the public and be prepared to have difficult conversations; lastly, that while we may disagree, there is more that unites than divides us. It is a politician who embodies these values who in my view will be able to unite the country.” 

Andrew Carter: “Would you consider running for political office in the UK Parliament at any stage?”

Seb Dance: “For the moment, all I am focused on is doing everything in my power to stop Brexit and, in the event Brexit does go through, to doing all I can to mitigate the consequences and to campaign for the UK to rejoin the EU. I will do that in whatever capacity I can, elected or not!”


John Moffett: “The threat of Brexit has pushed us all to our limits. How do you cope with the extra pressure of dealing face-to-face with Batten, Farage, and so on in the European Parliament, and is a sense of humour important? – we all loved your impromptu “He’s Lying” poster!”  

Seb Dance: “A sense of humour is always important, particularly in the world we now live in, but as ridiculous as those two are, we must remember that they are at the same time extremely dangerous., Batten et al. have spent years poisoning the public discourse around the EU and immigration, and they have espoused their racist views on a platform far, far larger than they merit. When I wrote that sign in the chamber it came from a place of great anger that Farage is able to lie so indiscriminately to the public. Of course, the fact that it made you and many others laugh is an added bonus. The truth is, I don’t think I have ever been angrier than I was at that point.”

Ruth Woodhouse: “I’ve been asked several times what I believe is the greatest benefit that the UK gains from being a member of the EU. How would you answer the same question?”

Seb Dance: “That’s a difficult question to answer.  We hear a lot about the great economic benefit that comes with EU membership and the half century of relative peace and stability that the EU has helped cement; however in my view, it is the right to work, study, travel and love across 28 member states that is the greatest benefit of EU membership. 

Seb and Sue

We have taken for granted that so many countries and cultures are at our fingertips just waiting to be explored and the profound impact that has had on millions of European citizens and on deepening our shared European culture. The fact that some are attempting to rob British citizens of this right is a disgrace. It will also put our young people at a tremendous disadvantage compared to their European counterparts.”

Barbara Leonard: “What are your views of the positive and negative aspects of the first past the post system vs. proportional representation?”

Seb Dance: “Since serving as an MEP, I must admit I have been converted to the merits of the PR system. I am a big supporter of the collaborative approach it demands of policy makers and think we could use more dialogue in today’s world. Equally, I think it magnifies the individual voices of both politicians and citizens, and in doing so makes people feel as if they have more of a stake in their society, something that is also sadly lacking in our society as the moment. The consensual style of politics is so much more conducive, in my view, to better policy-making. It has the added bonus of ensuring that policy isn’t just the preserve of one political party. It is much more of a communal endeavour.”

Steve Wilson: “If you could change one thing about the European Parliament, what would it be?”

Seb Dance: “That the Parliament would have one permanent home. While I love the city of Strasbourg, the fact that the Parliament moves oncee or even twice a month to its second home is I think indicative of what people would like to see changed within the EU. We have a perfectly good home in Brussels, and moving is a costly, unwieldy process – not to mention terrible for the environment.”

Kay Adams: “Is no deal still impossible?”

Seb Dance: “One thing I have learnt in the last few years is that the normal rules that you would expect to kick in, such as damage limitation and preventing the extremes from flourishing, are no longer there in our system. There is a kind of collective hysteria when it comes to Brexit, not only a refusal to look at the facts and what is objectively in the interests of the county but also a failure to look at what other people around the world are saying about us. This used to matter in our politics! But ultimately I think that anyone in a position of power, whether the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, knows that to implement a no-deal Brexit is to destroy one’s own credibility and the credibility of the movement you lead. There is no way back for any government or parliament that delivers food and medicine shortages and a catastrophic blow to our economy. The dangers of no deal are infinitely greater than the dangers of stopping Brexit or another referendum. I think the balance of probabilities still lies with that fact being appreciated by MPs and by the government.”

Bremain would like to thank Seb for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions.


¿Qué? podcast, episode two: What Brexit means for Brits in Spain

¿Qué? podcast, episode two: What Brexit means for Brits in Spain

So the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. But is it really? Will there be a second referendum? Will it crash out with no deal?

It seems that no one has the answers to those questions right now, something that’s leaving a lot of British residents in Spain, and Spanish residents in the UK, feeling very unsure about their futures.

In this second episode of our new podcast, ¿Qué?, the editor of the EL PAÍS English Edition, Simon Hunter, and his colleague, Melissa Kitson, discuss what Brexit might mean for British and Spanish migrants living in each other’s respective countries, in particular in the light of recent news that Madrid and London have reached a deal over voting rights in future municipal elections.

Full article in El Pais

Brits in Spain more concerned about future after the rejection of Brexit deal prolongs uncertainty

Brits in Spain more concerned about future after the rejection of Brexit deal prolongs uncertainty

The latest events in what some are branding the “Brexit pantomime” have done nothing to ease the concerns of the 40,000-plus Brits living on the Costa del Sol.

Tuesday’s historic vote in the UK’s House of Commons, which saw Theresa May’s Brexit deal rejected by a majority of 230 votes, was followed the next day by a narrow victory for her government in a vote of no confidence tabled by Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The 19-vote difference means that Theresa May’s Conservative party was given a mandate by Parliament to continue to negotiate some sort of withdrawal deal.

There has been mixed reaction from groups representing Brits in Malaga province and throughout the Spain.

Speaking to SUR on Wednesday, Anne Hernández, spokesperson for Mijas-based Brexpats in Spain, said this week’s events have been, “more senselessness.” She added that from the beginning the aim of her group, which represents both ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers’, has been to ensure that “the UK doesn’t leave without any kind of deal” meaning that the rights of Britons living in the EU are protected. The rejection of May’s deal means that the “anguish” felt by Britons is being extended and that people she talks to are “more worried than ever”.

For Sue Wilson, chair of anti-Brexit group, Bremain in Spain, the collapse of the Withdrawal Deal was as welcome as it was expected. She told SUR in English, “I have found myself in the strange position this week of wanting Theresa May to lose one vote on Tuesday and win another on Wednesday, both of which duly happened.”

Full article in The Sur

Brits in Spain see glimmer of hope in UK Brexit vote drubbing

Brits in Spain see glimmer of hope in UK Brexit vote drubbing

Jávea (Spain) (AFP) – On the sun-drenched eastern coast of Spain where British pensioners and business-owners are uncertain for their futures as Brexit ticks closer, the crushing parliamentary defeat of Theresa May’s EU divorce deal has sparked a glimmer of hope.

“This might not happen,” Lyle Starritt told AFP, the day after May suffered a historic drubbing in the House of Commons on Tuesday, when MPs rejected the deal she struck with the European Union.

Britons interviewed by AFP, all of whom were keen on Britain staying in the EU, also said they were confident that even if Brexit takes place Madrid would preserve their rights, providing London reciprocates for Spaniards living in Britain.

Starritt, who runs an estate agency just a stone’s throw away from the wide, palm tree-lined beach in the coastal town of Javea, said that many British expats had been gripped by a “sense of gloom” after the 2016 referendum to leave the bloc.

Spain is the number one destination for British nationals living outside Britain, far ahead of France and Ireland. These include retirees aged over 65 who have made the country their permanent home.

With no deal yet agreed for the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU at the end of March, many expats are concerned about freedom of movement, pensions and healthcare.

But Starritt, 58, said the collapse of May’s deal had given people some confidence that the entire Brexit process could be halted.

Read full article in Yahoo News