By Clive Jacques
FOR hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who call Spain home, the UK Referendum vote for a Brexit from the EU means their lives have suddenly on paper all gone wrong.
I am certainly very sad that a majority of the UK – many of whom have hardly ever visited Europe – voted to bale out on the EU.
That said, the worst fears of expats as they awoke this morning to the reality of an ‘Adios to the EU’ by Britain will not all transpire, of course.
But rest assured, their lives will never be quite the same, especially for those who decide to remain here following the 52% vote in favour of a Brexit.
With the vast majority voting to remain – those that were allowed to vote – it remains to be seen how many will leave following yesterday’s ‘Exit Thursday’.
Will the majority cling on in Spain, where they have been trying to ‘live the dream’ for decades? It’s the million (strengthening) dollar question.
Looking pragmatically, There are unlikely to be instant changes to daily life, despite what many believe as they listen, absorb, and no doubt join discussions which will often voice unreasonable assumptions over the coming days, weeks and months as the Exit process slowly gears up.
Myself, I exited life in Britain almost 40 years ago, moving first to the Middle East, later working in various parts of Asia, only returning to Europe 10 years ago upon retirement.
With a non-European wife, we have a cosmopolitan view to life and with private medical insurance and few ties with the UK, little for us will change other than the value (in Euros) of my UK Sterling pension, and perhaps our own already-planned long-term decision to sell up in Spain and relocate to the Far East.
But some British friends here will rightfully fear the future with trepidation. One, in particular, is dependent on the free health care received for years through his European Health Insurance card (EHIC) as he has undergone numerous operations in Spain – some major – and varying treatments for ongoing skin cancer.
So far they have cost nothing. In the future he will need to pay!
The likely drop in Sterling against the Euro will also immediately hit the weekly spend of other friends who already carefully monitor how they best spend their UK-based State pension, some not owning their own property here and having to watch every Euro.
Tomorrow British expats in Spain will once more awake to life as it was yesterday before the vote.
But over the next two to three years a clear picture will emerge of the changes. Many will not be as bad as feared this morning….but for some others they will be life-changing.
For me? I will be intrigued to see what unravels longer term in the ongoing dispute between Gibraltar and Spain given they are no longer EU bed partners!