Sue Wilson Writes: ‘An act of self-harm’: What my Spanish neighbours think of Brexit

Sue Wilson Writes: ‘An act of self-harm’: What my Spanish neighbours think of Brexit

When it does arise in conversation with Spanish friends, colleagues or neighbours, reactions range from incredulous to sad, bemused to offended.

Initially, my Spanish friends reacted to the 2016 referendum result with shock and disbelief. They couldn’t understand how millions of British citizens could vote to leave a union of neighbouring countries that they, personally, value so highly. They felt that we Brits had committed a hugely self-destructive act, and for no tangible reason. No argument from me!

At the time, many Brits living in Spain, me included, had scant knowledge about the EU and its role in our lives. Many of us simply took the rights and benefits afforded by EU membership for granted. We were happy to enjoy our daily existence in Spain, oblivious to the political goings-on in the UK – events in Westminster would have little effect on our lives in our adopted homeland, or so we thought. How wrong could we be?

When I first started campaigning to stay in the EU, an important element of that task was to communicate information and advice about Brexit as widely as possible. Initially, my communications were aimed at the British community in Spain. I confess that often proved a difficult task with those that voted to leave, despite them having made their homes in Europe.

The biggest hurdle was the fact that so many of them said, and still do, that “nothing will change”. Apparently, the Spanish “need us”, we “support the Spanish economy” and “we’ll get what we want because we’re British”.

The very fact that around a third of British citizens who have made their homes in Spain, actually voted to leave the EU is one fact that the Spanish still cannot fathom – “turkeys voting for Christmas” is an English idiom well-known to our Spanish friends now.

The need to communicate information to our Spanish friends and neighbours, as well as to our British ones, became increasingly apparent. The first task was to ensure the general public here that we hadn’t actually left the EU yet. The second was to convince them that Brexit was not inevitable – a task that became a whole lot easier once we didn’t leave the EU in March, or April, as planned.

When travelling, I repeatedly had to explain the Bremain in Spain strapline, “Brexit is Bonkers!”, to Spanish fellow-travellers who spotted my luggage stickers. Translating the “Bollocks to Brexit” stickers was rather more straightforward!

With my own Spanish friends, the most important point to communicate was that the result of the referendum did not reflect my personal views, or the views of the majority of the British population. They were and are genuinely interested in gaining a better understanding of what’s happening and what’s possible. Now they follow everything I am doing on the campaign front with great interest.

Any Brexit-related discussion with Spaniards inevitably leads to the treatment of Spanish citizens in the UK – a topic that fills me with shame. Thankfully, none of our Spanish friends’ families have personally experienced the racist abuse reported in the media. However, some have cancelled plans to spend time in the UK, or to move there, as they don’t feel assured of a warm welcome anymore. With that in mind, some have opted for Ireland or another EU country instead.

Despite the sadness and confusion surrounding Brexit, the Spanish people haven’t changed the way they treat British citizens. Our Spanish friends still call us their “English family” – much to the amusement of my Scottish husband! They welcome us into their lives and homes and are proud of people who aren’t taking Brexit lying down. They want us to stay in the EU, and in their homeland.

Since moving to Spain 12 years ago, it has felt like my “forever home”. Now I’m more convinced than ever that my future is here – but not simply because Brexit has turned my birthplace into a country I no longer recognise, or can take any pride in.

Spain is my home because of the Spanish people – their culture, their way of life, their passion, openness and kindness. The language is special too – “¡Cojones a Brexit!” does have a certain ring about it.

“Stop Brexit”, of course, requires no translation whatsoever.

Sue’s article taken from The Local


Sue Wilson Writes: How Brexit changed our lives

Sue Wilson Writes: How Brexit changed our lives

Do you remember those innocent, peaceful days three years ago, before our daily existence was dominated by Brexit? When we wouldn’t have known what a Withdrawal Agreement was, even if it came up and bit us on the backside? Me neither!


I was a political virgin before the June 2016 referendum. I took little interest in current affairs, and zero interest in the antics of the UK government. I felt perfectly content living in Spain and in ignorance, and felt that any decisions made in Westminster were of little consequence to me.

The referendum result shocked me out of my naivety and changed my life. It woke me from a self-induced, rather pleasant coma and, over time, turned me into a different person.

It turned me into a campaigner.

Before Brexit, I had never campaigned for anything in my life. I once attended an anti-apartheid rally in Trafalgar Square, several decades ago. That was the sum total of my political activism, and it lasted all of five minutes.


I never set out to become an anti-Brexit campaigner, but I became increasingly involved. When I look back, I’m still surprised at the speed of my transformation. Within three months of engaging with the Bremain in Spain campaign, I was the chairperson.

Many Bremain members describe how Brexit has changed not only British society, but their own lives and natures as well. They speak of the damage it has done to their sense of security, their health and well-being, and the anxiety it causes about the future.

Many people explain how their post-Brexit relationships with family and friends reflect the divisiveness now experienced by UK society. Britain is no longer divided along party-political lines, but by how we feel about our wider European family.

I’ve heard people say they are quick to anger now; they’re more emotional, lacking in patience. I share those feelings entirely.

In the past, I always avoided confrontation. I kept calm and cool. Where politics was concerned, I never voiced an opinion – after all, I didn’t know what I was talking about! Now it’s difficult to shut me up – in fact, I’m not sure I have another topic of conversation!

Along the way, my language has become more choice. I understand, from talking to other Brexit-campaigners, that this is a common side-effect.

Walls are turning blue all over Spain and the UK, from the constant shouting and swearing at TV screens whenever May or Farage make an unwanted appearance.


Brexit has made me a different person in many negative ways, but it has changed me for the better too. It has taught me new skills and given me the confidence to do many things I never thought I could do before. For example, I would never have imagined delivering a speech to a room of 100 people, let alone addressing tens of thousands.

Read the full story in Dispatches Europe


Expat pro-EU remain group considering appeal against High Court Brexit referendum case dismissal

Expat pro-EU remain group considering appeal against High Court Brexit referendum case dismissal

A COSTA BLANCA-based group of British expatriates campaigning to remain in the EU have said they are considering appealing against High Court ruling on the legality of the Brexit referendum.

Bremain in Spain, part of the UK in EU group, said it would appeal against the dismissal of their court appeal for judicial review after the judge called it “hopeless”.

Mr Justice Ouseley presided over the hearings which were launched after Britain’s Electoral Commission ruled the Vote Leave organisation had broken campaign spending laws.

Susan Wilson, lead claimant in the case and head of Bremain in Spain, said she was disappointed with the ruling.

“The government has aggressively countered our claims and has shown a blatant disregard for democratic values,” Wilson said.

Read full article in the Euro Weekly News