FOR British expatriates living in Almeria, Brexit is the elephant in the room. Everyone will have different ties back to the UK, but most will have some financial connection whether by property, pensions or family.
In the last two weeks, Theresa May’s pricey £1bn deal to forge a pact with the DUP represents the most immediate impact for Britons in Spain. Whenever the prime minister makes any Brexit-related political decision, exchange rates stagger, flutter or fall.
If you’re transferring money or travelling back to the UK, it’s invaluable to keep an eye out for any events as insignificant as May having dinner in Brussels or EU meeting leaders. These developments can, even in the short term, make the financial difference to the pennies in your pocket mainly, as so often happens now, a policy statement follows them.
The biggest question facing British expatriates is what rights and privileges they, and Spaniards in the UK, will enjoy when a deal gets struck. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Mrs May have taken to making bold pronouncements on what ‘will’ occur. Their ministers either state, insinuate or proclaim the same. This is nonsense – not one of them is a soothsayer, and no one can predict what the final agreement between the UK and EU will look like, to say nothing of the concessions likely required from both sides.
What is key to remember is a game of hostages is getting played. Whatever one country does to the other’s citizens will be returned in kind. Access to healthcare and benefits will be top of the negotiating agenda, but, despite the differences in expatriate numbers, Spain and Britain remain matched. Spain is the number one destination for Brits living abroad, which means a significant level of taxable income and property for Madrid. Additionally, Spain reclaims costs of healthcare provided to British citizens, yet Britain’s ability to do the same on foreign nationals is significantly less efficient.
Proclamations from either side should be taken with a pinch of salt because there is nothing yet set in stone for the 125,000 Spanish people in the UK, or the 310,000 British expatriates who live in Spain of which 12,459 live in Almeria. Indeed, if there’s a lesson to be had it’s that what politicians say should be differentiated between that they want to happen and what is in place be agreement, treaty or law.