Brits abroad fear the referendum!
Britain will have a national referendum on June 23, just under 4 weeks from now, to decide whether to remain in the European Union, or to leave it. The Brexit referendum, as it has come to be known as, has already worried a lot of people, especially British expats living in Spain.
Over 2.4 million Britons live abroad, and 1 million of them live in Spain. Spain is by far the most popular country among British expats. But today, many are worried about the consequences of Brexit on their life in Spain.
The beautiful region of Costa del Sol is home to a large British expat population. Many have admitted to watch what was happening in Britain with a sense of dread over their future.
The British government released a the report which warned that expat would lose “a range of specific rights to live, to work and to access pensions, healthcare and public services that are only guaranteed because of EU law. UK citizens resident abroad, among them those who have retired to Spain, would not be able to assume that these rights will be guaranteed.”
46-year old Lisa Richards, a British expat who works as a real estate agent in Costa del Sol,explains why she is so scared: “A lot of the property here is sold to Brits: they’re a big market. It’s easy to buy at the moment, and if the EU regulations no longer applied then it would definitely make the process of buying more complicated.
“I think if we come out of Europe, Brits won’t buy any more. There will be extra taxes. I’ve lived here for seven years, and I have had to work really, really hard to get a good job. You start at eight and you work until eight, but a few years ago I tried to move back to Wales and I was told by the council I might as well get myself a cardboard box to live in and there was no work,” Lisa adds.
Libby is from Lancashire and she spends time in both Spain and the UK. Here’s what she feels about the referendum: “I voted for the Common Market when I was 18. I’ll vote to stay in now. If we leave, we are not going to have any links anywhere any more. We’ve no industry, we’re just a service industry.
“But the sad thing is that British people will just vote the way they are told to vote by the Sun or the Star or the Mail, because the majority won’t think for themselves or even bother to vote at all.
“Out here, a lot of people won’t bother to register to vote. What you find is that you talk about Brexit and everyone starts talking about migrants. The British are the only ones who don’t understand that the migrant thing is going to happen whether we’re in the EU or not.”
A British expat who chooses to be anonymous says that he is very optimistic that Britain would stay in the EU and says that’s because Prime Minister David Cameron has allowed expats and immigrants to vote – who are likely to vote in favor of the “remain” side.
Another British expat, Richie Hart, who owns a bar, says, “Our regulars are already suffering because as soon as talk of the referendum started the euro rates went down, so people getting their money from Britain get less. This is no dream life out here: we work very hard and can’t afford to employ anyone – the costs of that are really high in Spain. Nor do the Spanish care if we succeed or not. If I have to hand the lease back, the government will get a cut from the lease being sold on again, so why would they care? If leaving the EU has a big effect on the bars then we’d have to get other jobs. We can’t go back: the employment situation in south Wales, where I’m from, is nine out of 10 men out of work.”
Author: Raghav Hegde – India