THE sun rose at 7.03 on Friday June 24 but there were few rays of optimism on one of Europe’s darkest days. Ever.
Nobody saw it coming. And nobody was ready for it.
Political armageddon ensued. The Prime Minister jumped ship – with a speech containing as many nautical references as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – and markets nose-dived along with the pound.
The world – and our place in it – came to an abrupt and horribly eerie end… and it didn’t take long for expats to work out that our livelihoods are at risk.
We are now living on the front line!
While Gibraltar looked at links to Scotland and Spain eyed up the Rock, Europe licked its wounds and told the UK to simply get a move on and invoke that, now apocalyptic, ‘Article 50’.
Despite the British ambassador for Spain calling for ‘calm’ expats are understandably nervous about what is in store.
Some are already planning to depart, or postponing key decisions.
One of those is Yorkshireman Jonathan Smith, who is having to reassess ‘everything’ after recently opening a cycling and yoga retreat in Cordoba.
“The impact will be huge,” he tells the Olive Press. “Brexit could end up wrecking my whole business plan.
“If I lose the right to operate in Spain as a bike guide – or lose the EU’s protection against Spanish bureaucracy – then my cycling business is finished before it’s even started.
“I can see a situation where I need half a dozen different permits, which will take an eternity to sort out, and likely cost a fortune.”
Equally worried is leading Costa de la Luz hotelier Peter Whaley, who is urging expats to consider ‘becoming Spanish’.
“Britain has voted for disunity and instability which will no doubt go on for years,” he says.
“Yes Europe needs reforming, but not from the sidelines, from within.
“I’ve been running businesses here for over 30 years and I understand the failings of Spain and Europe but this however will only make it worse.”
The owner of Tarifa’s emblematic Hurricane Hotel, which opened in 1984, added: “We are not little Englanders here – we are open and worldly and I would urge all British expats in Spain to consider taking Spanish nationality in protest.” (See Fed up of the Uk? below)
But before the situation is made clearer for expats, the political and social turmoil in the UK must be sorted. And fast.
As the Tory party wages internal war over the search for a new leader, Labour boss Jeremy Corbyn has faced a backlash from his own shadow cabinet, with 63 Labour staff including more than 40 MPs hanging up their expenses books. Despite an overwhelming vote of no confidence in him, the surly leader looks set to battle on.
In reality, Britain is in political limbo, with Leave supporter Boris Johnson shockingly backing out of his bid to become party leader, having led the country towards Brexit before fleeing the scene with his tail between his legs. Now Farage has also gone.
As prophesied by a Guardian commenter, David Cameron checkmated the Leave campaign
with his resignation; the truth being that no politician has the guts to trigger Article 50 and walk the UK out of the EU for good.
In the city, major companies including budget airline easyJet, telecoms giant Vodafone and technology firm Siemens are all threatening to leave the UK; putting hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of hard-working British people’s jobs at risk.
Almost all major banks are weighing up their options, with many waiting to see if the UK can remain in the single market before committing.
And things are looking just as bleak on Britain’s streets. A sickening 500% increase in race-hate crimes since the referendum has uncovered the ugly side of vote Leave.
Letters telling Polish residents to go home have been put through letter boxes in Hammersmith, videos of Muslims being shouted at in Birmingham have done the rounds and migrants (of all nationalities) have been made to feel unwelcome.
The Spanish Institute on Portobello Road has been vandalised with the phrase ‘Foreigners go back’.
And while the UK goes to pieces, Europe wants things sorted sharpish. And understandably so.
Acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists he wants negotiations to begin with the UK immediately but he is opposed to the idea of a breakaway state which cuts off England and Wales from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.
“Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of United Kingdom,” said Rajoy.
“I am extremely against it, the treaties are extremely against it and I believe everyone is extremely against it.”
It presumably has nothing to do with the fact Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Margallo is pushing for joint-sovereignty of Gibraltar following Brexit.
However, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is sticking to his bold vision to keep Gibraltar in the EU by chumming up with Scotland.
In an astonishing development, the Rock’s leader revealed he was in talks with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (pictured left) to stay with Scotland in the world’s largest trading bloc.
What happens from here remains to be seen.
Thanks to Nigel Farage June 24 will forever be remembered as the UK’s Independence Day.
But sadly, there are now millions of Leave voters who wish they could retract their vote like Farage retracted his promise to switch £350 million in EU payments to the NHS each week.
The truth is that many were conned, but now we will tragically just have to get on with it.