Brexit Backlash for Brits Living in Spain?

Brexit expats living in Spain

As the path towards Brexit continues to be cluttered by legal and political obstacles expats living abroad in Spain and other EU states have grown increasingly anxious about their living situation and rights to access basic services such as health and education since the UK’s decision to leave the union in June last year. Undoubtedly, the recent case of the leaked EU paper, which warned of a Brexit backlash for Brits living abroad, will have done little to ease concerns. british expats in spain brexit

The document, which surfaced last week, was drawn up by the European parliament’s legal affairs committee and says that it will be down to each member state to decide whether British citizens are granted permission to continue living within their respective borders after 2019 but also stated that the UK’s treatment of EU nationals to remain after Brexit could colour the remaining EU27’s approach: “The fact that it appears to be particularly difficult for foreign nationals, even if married to UK nationals or born in the UK, to acquire permanent residence status or British nationality may colour member states’ approach to this matter.”

So far the government has been tight-lipped on the issue, vowing not to reveal too much information ahead of official negotiations in order to ensure Prime Minister Teresa May does not enter such talks from a position of weakness with “one hand tied behind her back”.

In response Labour and the Liberal Democrats, along with groups campaigning on behalf of British expats overseas, have stepped up the pressure on the government to come out and guarantee EU nationals’ rights in the UK as a magnanimous gesture to encourage EU states to reciprocate by ensuring the rights of British nationals abroad. british expats Spain brexitBritish citizens in Spain brexit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned May’s current handling of the situation regarding UK citizens living overseas in the EU as a “Hunger Games approach to Brexit”. Corbyn said the document pointed to “the human cost of a Tory-style Brexit. Families, jobs and homes are all in the balance.” He added: “There must be an end to this Hunger Games approach to Brexit negotiations, which gives no consideration to EU nationals in our country or British nationals living abroad.”

While Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said May had been caught “playing with fire” and that: “This issue could have been settled from the start if the government had done the right thing and made clear EU citizens who have made the UK their home can remain indefinitely.

“Instead, millions of people on both sides of the channel are being left in limbo and faced with agonising uncertainty over their futures. Antagonising our European partners is no way to get a good deal for Britain and for the many UK citizens living in EU countries.” British expats in Spain brexit 

Laura Shields, a spokesperson for Brits Abroad Yes to Europe, which campaigned to get UK citizens living in the EU to vote in the referendum, said: “Contrary to popular cliches, most Brits living on the continent aren’t wealthy pensioners who’ve retired to the riviera to live it up in the sun.

“Our recent research shows that Brits in the EU worry about the same things as the rest of the British population – they have jobs, families that need supporting and carer responsibilities. But losing their EU citizenship will cause a myriad of practical problems which must be addressed fully in the negotiations if they are to get a fair deal and to be able to stay in the country they call home.”

In an attempt to shore up good faith that the Prime Minister and her team are doing all that they can to settle the issue positively and quickly, the Home Office released a statement in the aftermath of the leak stating: “This government has been clear that we want to protect the status of EU nationals already living here and the only circumstances in which that wouldn’t be possible is if British citizens’ rights in European member states were not protected in return.

“The prime minister has reiterated the need for an agreement as soon as possible as part of the negotiations to leave the EU. The rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged while we are a member of the European Union. EU nationals do not require any additional documents to prove their status.”

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