FAR from holding hands this new year, we’ve never been further apart. 

Thanks to the twin terrors – a departure from Europe and a catastrophic surge in COVID cases – Britain is being forced to hold its loved ones at arm’s length. 

In 2016 when we voted to cut our ties with the rest of Europe I don’t think any of us imagined how isolated we would truly feel, and with flights cancelled and borders shut we’ve never been more alone. 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Or is a deathbed scare the only way for us to be reunited?

Carole Clarke, 68, is pleading for help after she got stuck in Belfast after flying out on December 19 to deliver Christmas presents to her daughter and grandchildren.

Her husband Frederick, 81, is chronically ill back at home near Almunecar, suffering from lung disease COPD and diabetes.

The former nurse and aerobics instructor, who has lived in Andalucia for 20 years, was then refused boarding on her easyJet flight back to Spain after new coronavirus measures demanded she must prove her residency. 

“I have been trying to get an appointment since December to start the process but it was impossible, ” Carole told the Olive Press. “There were none available anywhere.”

Carole And Frederick Exclusive
Carole and Frederick

She added: “If I had known I would not be allowed back I would not have flown in the first place.” 

It has turned out to be a total nightmare for the pensioner, who has long lived with her husband, Frederick, 81, both from Portsmouth, in a villa at La Herradura, in Granada.

Despite having a negative PCR test, which set her back €120, Carole was told that having a dependent husband did not qualify as an exemption. 

“The Spanish Embassy told me that unless he is on his deathbed, I won’t be allowed back,” she told the Olive Press. 

“It’s horrific, my husband should not be going out but he is alone and has no choice.”

The 81-year-old should be sheltering at home being in the severe at-risk category with his illnesses and age. 

“He has been on his own now for a month, he has to get his own shopping which means putting himself constantly at risk,” added Carole, “What am I supposed to do?” 

Fortunately, Frederick was able to get his residency sorted out in December, but Carole has been unable to get an appointment. 

Without residency thousands of Brits like Carole are being denied access into Spain, in a bid to curtail COVID infection rates the government is only allowing access to residents and nationals. 

Ironically the new restrictions mean UK nationals are being treated just like the immigrants they voted to keep out.

Leaving the EU has finally given us a sense of the sadness refugee families have gone through for years.

Although it may be too late to turn back time, hopefully, this lesson will stay with us for years to come. 

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