THE future for British expats in Spain is in the balance.
British people may not be able to live here if Britain exits the EU, Europe minister David Lidington has warned.
In an alarming speech, he insisted that ‘everything we take for granted’ – including free movement between European countries – will be ‘in jeopardy’ should Britons vote for a Brexit in a referendum on June 23.
“Everything we take for granted about access to the single market – trade taking place without customs checks or paperwork at national frontiers, the right of British citizens to go and live in Spain or France – those would all be up in the air.
“It is massive what is at risk,” he said.
His claims came as the first official government analysis of a Brexit warned of a ‘decade of instability’.
Leaving Europe would likely seriously limit the movements of Britons around Europe with potentially millions of holidaymakers and expats left stranded, the 24-page report says.
The report warns that once it was finalised, UK citizens ‘living, working or on holiday abroad would immediately face restrictions on their ability to move about freely’.
The British ambassador in Madrid is strongly backing the campaign to stay in Europe and urging expats to vote in June.
A spokesman told the Olive Press last night that leaving ‘would likely have many serious implications for all of us living here’.
“No one yet knows the extent of them,” he admitted, but added: “These are questions the Leave campaign needs to answer.
“What is clear is that a vote to leave would be a leap into the dark.
“As the Prime Minister has said, it would mean years of uncertainty.”
There are also meanwhile, major questions about the impact a Brexit would have in Gibraltar, even including an immediate closure of the border.
“If the UK were to leave the EU, there would be no guarantee that the border would remain open,” a cabinet office report insists.
However, senior ministers and London’s mayor Boris Johnson has slammed the Stay campaign’s ‘project fear’ agenda.
“There is absolutely no evidence to support the reports,” Johnson said. “They have plucked numbers together to satisfy their project fear agenda.”
A referendum was set after David Cameron attempted to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU on issues such as migrants and welfare. However, many politicians and commentators claim he has made little progress.
An analysis of the six most recent polls suggests 45% of voters want to leave the EU, while 55% will vote to remain.