Our Pain in Spain

Our Pain in Spain

Sue Wilson - Chair

We had a simple dream for our retirement – a home by the sea, plenty of sunshine, a relaxed, healthy lifestyle and a Mediterranean diet, writes our Guest Writer for Today, Sue Wilson.

Ten years ago, we took the plunge and moved to Spain. We have never looked back.. until 24 June, 2016.

On that fateful day, our whole lives were turned upside down – our futures threatened. Would we be able to remain in Spain, receive healthcare, survive on a reduced income? Brexit could change everything.

To say that the referendum result was a shock would be an understatement. It was like a death in the family.

It was a full three weeks before I could make any sense of anything. Disbelief turned to sadness, sorrow turned to anger. I’m still angry. I will stay angry until Brexit is cancelled.

I had never been particularly interested in current affairs or politics. The referendum changed all that. My husband would ask me if I’d seen such and such a story in the newspapers – my answer was always “no”.

By July 2016, my answer had changed to “yes, I’ve read it, and I’ve already shared it on Facebook”. A casual interest in monitoring the news had become something of an obsession.

I’ve gained more new skills and gained more knowledge in the last 10 months, than in the previous 10 years. I now know more about trade deals than Liam Fox or Boris Johnson (but admittedly, that’s a low bar).

Fortunately, I was able to vote in the referendum. Many Brits abroad were not so lucky due to a rule preventing them from voting if they had lived abroad for more than 15 years.

In the Conservatives 2015 manifesto, David Cameron promised to scrap that rule.

But the government then announced that it couldn’t implement the new voting arrangements in time for the referendum. Instead, it promised that all Britons abroad would have ‘Votes for Life’ by the time of the next General Election.

That’s also turned out to be another broken promise. The 15-year rule won’t be scrapped in time for Mrs May’s ‘snap’ General Election on 8 June.

To be denied a vote that could directly affect your life so dramatically – not once, but twice – is cruel and underhand.

In next month’s General Election, I will be making my vote count, and switching my allegiance to a pro-EU party that believes Brexit is a national crisis.

I will be encouraging everyone I know to vote tactically and to prevent the Tory government continuing unopposed with their reckless Brexit. We don’t all have a vote but we all have a voice. I intend to do a lot of shouting!

We’ve worked hard for our life in Spain, and we aim to keep it. You’ll not find us in a bar festooned with Union Jacks, or at the bowls club. We do not spend our time on the beach or drinking G & Ts.

We are not tourists – this is our life. We work, shop, do laundry. Our Spanish isn’t fluent yet but we make an effort to integrate and our Spanish friends are like family.

Our EU citizenship is a treasured possession to be protected. The rights and freedoms we currently enjoy are too important and too valuable to lose.

We are not bargaining chips or negotiating collateral. We are not traitors or any less British because we chose to live in a different location. We are proud Europeans and we fully intend to stay that way.

• Sue Wilson lives in Spain with her husband, Steve, as part of the Valencian Community in Alcossebre. She works part-time as a project manager, and is currently renovating a villa. In the UK, she was a Sales Manager & Management Trainer. Sue is Chair of ‘Bremain in Spain’:

Article written for Reasons2Remain Group