Spain’s acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy has moved to assure UK expats that they will “looked after” and to “keep calm” after Brexit, following a meeting with UK prime minister Theresa May.
Acting PM Rajoy released a statement from Spain’s Palacio de la Moncloa reassuring expats that their interests would be looked after in any Brexit settlement.
The acting Spanish prime minister told May, that although he “profoundly regretted” the result of the referendum, since he was committed to defending the interests of Spaniards in the UK, by the same token he would defend expats and British businesses in Spain.
“In the same way that Spain is going to defend the interests of Spaniards in the UK, the British who are living in Spain, the millions of tourists who visit Spain and the British companies based here should keep calm,” he said, in a written statement from Moncloa Palace, Rajoy’s official residence.
‘Up close and personal’
There was no joint press conference after May and Rajoy’s working lunch, which was followed by a choreographed stroll through the Moncloa Palace gardens, but an official release said that “Rajoy told the UK prime minister that Spain wants to carry on the same close and friendly relationship with the UK”.
Gibraltar, the British overseas territory located on the southern coast of Spain which Spain has long claimed as its own, was reportedly not mentioned during the meeting, but Rajoy’s rabid opposition to Scottish independence was mentioned in the post-meeting release.
“Mariano Rajoy also expressed to the British prime minister that Spain supports the integrity of the UK and will not encourage any kind of secessionism related to the exit from the European Union,” the statement continued.
Rajoy fears that any progress on Scottish independence could set a precedent for Catalonia’s own demands for full autonomy, an issue that many experts believe has the very real potential of breaking up modern Spain.