Expats and no facts

There were a lot of very worried expats here in Spain when the referendum came along earlier this year. What on earth would become of them if the UK population voted to leave the European Union?

Would they would be forced out of Spain? That would spell the end of their European dream! Don’t want to go back!

It’s no wonder there was such strong support among expats to Remain.

In May, just before the referendum, The Daily Telegraph published an article entitled EU Facts: What does leaving the EU mean for expats? Oh, if it were so simple as to publish hard facts the expat could digest easily and act upon if necessary. Check out the answers [abbreviated below] to the newspaper’s own questions:

Could Brexit see expats deported by EU members? Almost certainly not

What could they do to my property? You may have to pay more tax

Could expats really be barred from EU healthcare and benefits? It’s possible, but unlikely

A series of Maybes there, painting hardly a doomsday scenario. That was before the vote.

More concrete was Spain’s President at the time, Mariano Rajoy. He said that a ‘Brexit’ vote would have overwhelmingly negative effects for Britons living and working in the country:

“Leaving the European Union would mean that British citizens would lose their right to move freely, work and do business within the largest economic area, the largest market in the world,” he said. “If the United Kingdom left the European Union, it would be very negative for everyone and from every perspective.”

Did I just witness a politician acting irresponsibly there?

After the vote, the expat reaction. This Guardian article of June 24th is peppered with adjectives like ‘gutted’, ‘unbelieveable’ and ‘devastated’ as it describes the views of a sector of expats on the Costa del Sol. Yet these reactions are based on no certainties whatsoever, just a set of possible negatives, none of which was ever confirmed as being sure-fire by either the UK government, the Spanish government, or the European Union itself.

Months later and I haven’t noticed a single change in my fortunes as a British expat in Spain, nor even a sniff of a change ahead. Indeed Rajoy, whose tenure as President now looks likely to be continued, said to Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May in a meeting only this month that “the British people living in Spain, the millions of British tourists who visit us every year, and the British companies based on Spanish territory can rest easy” 

I’m beginning to wonder if this Brexit thing isn’t just Smoke and Mirrors.

Until next time,


Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee®, the most comprehensive Spanish for kids learning program ever to appear online. Jim’s work includes this homeschool Spanish curriculum and this homeschool Spanish curriculum (not a misprint – he wrote two!) and this Primary School Spanish curriculum.

Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…


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