AN expat campaigner is making a film about the effect of Brexit on Brits in Spain.
Gemma Middleton is travelling to Alicante, Valencia, Malaga, Murcia and Madrid to interview fellow expats for the hour-long documentary.
Valencia-based Middleton,43, was inspired to make Uk Immigrants in Spain – the Forgotten Voices after feeling betrayed by June’s referendum result.
Since the June 23 vote, mother-of-two Middleton has travelled through Spain with director Samuel Sebastian interviewing some of the 800,000 Britons living here.
Among those interviewed is a dance academy manager who refuses to hire Brits who have lived here for less than five years in case they are unable to get residency.
The film, due for release in 2017, will also explore the effect of Brexit on Spanish companies, law and attitudes towards Brits.
I’ve spoken to a lot of Brits since the Leave vote, some are switched on and others are completely clueless. Self preservation has kicked in with some of the older Brits who (they hope) will not be affected because of ‘acquired rights’ but too many of them are assuming far too much and don’t seem to realise that acquired rights or not, they may find they have to pay higher taxes as non-EU citizens, have fewer rights and their free healthcare could become more difficult. Disappointingly, many of them selfishly don’t care about slamming the door in the faces of fellow Brits who might want to relocate to Spain in the future.
I have also met people who are over in Spain checking out areas and thinking about relocating but are unsure because they don’t know how Brexit will affect them or if they will be subjected to higher taxes and work/business/travel restrictions as non-EU citizens. I have also met people who are tentatively looking at holiday homes but are worried about how much time will they be able to spend in them.
The whole thing is a complete basket case and nobody has a clue what Brexit will look like. Hard Brexit is the worst case scenario which would affect everyone with interests in Spain but soft Brexit (which we are hoping for) might at least give us a similar deal to Norway.
As each stage of Brexit unravels, it looks more and more unworkable and not worth the hassle. With elections in Germany and France next year, the EU could look very different so I hope a new and more flexible EU can emerge that we can be part of.
Terrible to think that people nearing the ends of their lives voted away their grandchildrens’ rights and opportunities, and that 16-17 year olds never even got a say, nor the people who have lived outside the UK for 15+ years whose rights are being retrospectively removed. What an awful state of affairs this referendum has been in these respects. I think the phrase “be careful what you wish for, it may cone true” is very apt.
Brexit is a worry indeed. The vote appears (to this Spanish resident) as being largely inspired by racism and bigotry: something we who love Spain find hard to understand.
The United Kingdom was never a leading champion of a truly ‘United’ Europe, so perhaps one should look on the bright side and, with the British out, maybe the rest of the EU can now improve and coalesce.
For the much-maligned and usually ignored ex-pats, Brexit is almost certainly going to be a bother. If the UK puts limits on EU citizens, or visas, or work-permits, why then the Spanish authorities will do the same thing to us. We have no champions, no spokesmen and no representation to protect us or argue our case. The Spanish think we are just 270,000 (not 800,000), so will not be unduly swayed by economic arguments. If the UK inconveniences Spanish migrants, there will be a tit-for-tat, and worse still, the British Government wouldn’t say a word.
We have a few groups here created by the foreign residents. One is the very active ‘Brexpats in Spain’ based in Mijas. I work with another which seeks help from Brussels rather than from London or Madrid. It’s called ‘Europats’.
Both are easily found on Google.
We Britons living in Spain could easily lose our privileges – health cover, the right to vote, annual pension increases… maybe in an extreme case, our right to residence. Sticking one’s head in the sand won’t cut it.
Good luck with the film!