WOULDN’T it be nice to know exactly how many British expats live in Spain?
While it is estimated that there are up to a million, foreign office minister and Tory MP Grant Shapps was on the Costa del Sol last week presenting the latest FCO report (Helping British Nationals Abroad 2014/15) and urging expats to register for the local padron and take advantage of our stellar consular assistance.
Malaga boasts one of only three worldwide call centres for the British consular service, and last year Spain topped the list of nations from where the British made consular enquiries, with a massive 28,759, followed by the US.
This confirms the quantity of Brits setting in Spain over anywhere else in the world.
“It’s really important, especially with the referendum coming up, that you register to vote and declare yourselves in your communities so they can receive appropriate funding,” Shapps told the Olive Press in Benalmadena.
“It’s really important that the voice of expats is heard, but to be heard you can’t shout from the sidelines.”
Optimistic about the success of the Tory manifesto to scrap the 15-year voting rule – parliamentary agenda dependant – Shapps was adamant about the need for expats to engage with politics back home.
“There are vast numbers of people who have lived here for under 15 years and are eligible to vote in the general election but didn’t register – even after we changed to law to make it even easier to vote.”
Shapps also visited British nationals in prison, witnessed the call centre and met a variety of local expats.
The MP for Welwyn Hatfield, although ruefully admitting he speaks no foreign languages himself, championed the benefits of learning Spanish in order to avoid integration difficulties.