ANXIOUS expats are urging action to ensure they can stay in Spain post-Brexit.
It comes after Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said British citizens would be welcome to stay in the event of a ‘no-deal’ with Europe scenario.
Dastis pointed out that 17 million Brits visit the country each year, saying ‘many of them live here or retire here and we want to keep it that way as much as possible’.
But in the event of a no-deal, the loss of existing rights such as healthcare could make living in Spain impractical, claim campaigners.
“The threat to our rights and freedoms that Brexit represents causes us great anxiety – especially if no deal can be reached,” insisted Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain this week.
“Dastis’ comments were welcome but don’t resolve the main issues concerning British citizens.
“Our concerns relate to whether circumstances will allow us to stay, even if we have permission from the Spanish government.”
She added: “If our rights and freedoms as EU citizens are not protected, then the Spanish authorities allowing us to stay will not be enough on its own.”
It comes after fears mounted that Britain will crash out of the EU without a final Brexit deal, with Theresa May admitting the Brussels negotiations have hit ‘difficulty’.
Already some long-term expats have started the process of applying for Spanish citizenship with many more unwilling to give up their UK passports.
Renouncing British citizenship and getting a Spanish passport creates concerns over their future status when returning to the UK.
“If a British person becomes a Spanish citizen, what happens if they later return to care for an elderly parent? Would they be just another unwelcome European citizen?” Wilson asked.
Dual nationality for Spanish-based Brits is currently not allowed by Madrid, with Guardian journalist Giles Tremlett leading a campaign to change the current law.
Bremain in Spain member Margaret Hales MBE, 70, called on the Spanish government to alter its current stance.
“I would ask Rajoy to pledge a change in law so that British people who wish to apply for Spanish nationality could continue to hold their British nationality,” she said.