Costa Collateral: The sad fate of Britain’s Brexpats

Costa Collateral: The sad fate of Britain’s Brexpats

It is a typically tranquil winter afternoon at the Chambao de Vicente restaurant.

Its rustic terrace spills out onto the golden sands of the Playa La Herradura, a beach running parallel to the small Spanish Costa del Sol town of the same name.

The clientele is a mix of both immigrants – British, Germans and Swedes – and Spaniards, their jovial laughter perforating the sound of the nearby rolling waves.

Yet, once lunch has been cleared, the sleepy restaurant wakes with a jolt as a group of British diners gathers to unfurl a European Union flag.

“We want to stay with you!” whoops one woman.  “Yes,” exclaims another, “Bollocks to Brexit!”

The good-natured gang are received well by other patrons, many of whom rush over to be photographed with the Brits.

The group are members of Bremain in Spain, an organisation set up in the wake of the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

Bremain in Spain not only campaigns for the UK to Remain but also lobbies British, Spanish and EU politicians to protect the rights of British immigrants in Spain.

Membership of the group has swollen over the last few months to include more than 5,000 activists with the increase attributed to concerns that Brits in Spain have been all but forgotten by Theresa May. A number of other worried groups exist across the country.

Just the day before the lunch in La Herradura, the Brexpats in Spain organisation held two public meetings in the towns of Benalmadena and Mijas.

“We had two informative public talks on the coast, both attended by more than 200 worried Brits,” explains Sharon Hitchcock, a volunteer for Brexpats in Spain.

“During our meetings we have found that there are a lot of confused people who are finding the whole process quite overwhelming.”

More Brits call Spain home than any other country in the EU27 – 310,000, although this figure is thought to be as low as a third of the actual number, with temporary residents, dual nationals and those not registering with the Spanish authorities making up the rest.

Read the full article in The New European

Fear and anger stalk thousands of Britons living on Costa del Sol

Fear and anger stalk thousands of Britons living on Costa del Sol

“We are petrified that will be taken away,” Soffe said. “There is not a single insurance company that will touch him.”

A couple of years ago, Michael Soffe seemed to have a charmed life. A gourmet tour guide and wedding planner, he’d made a home and built a business in sun-soaked Málaga, the increasingly hip city at the heart of Spain’s southern coast.

Now he fears that everything he’s worked for is hanging in the balance as heedless politicians push Brexit negotiations to the brink. His biggest worry is that his partner, a two-time cancer survivor still in treatment, could lose his right to public healthcare.

“We are petrified that will be taken away,” Soffe said. “There is not a single insurance company that will touch him.”

There is also his pension. Having spent more than 30 years living in Spain, the savings that he was relying on to retire in a few years’ time would be much reduced if EU agreements to share welfare credits earned in different countries were abandoned, he said.

Pension and healthcare worries loom large among British immigrants in Spain, particularly those clustered on the coast. The cliche of Costa del Sol life is played out in many small settlements where older Britons enjoy a sun-filled version of retirement in seaside towns, with breakfast menus featuring fry-ups instead of tortillas, and no Spanish required.

But they are actually a minority of nearly 300,000 UK citizens formally registered to live in Spain. Two-thirds of that group are working, said John Moffett, vice-chair of the campaign group Bremain in Spain, which is pushing to protect their rights.

Read full story in The Guardian