RTN met with Simon Manley CMG in Benidorm on Friday morning to discuss the challenges faced by ex-pats in Spain in the eyes of Brexit.
It is a busy time for the UK government at the moment as they prepare to submit Article 50 to the European Union (EU) before the end of March.
Once Article 50 is submitted, negotiations will begin between the government and the EU. The Ambassador confirmed his priority in the negotiations is to secure the ‘best possible deal’ for Brits living in Spain and elsewhere in the EU and to ensure such deal is secured ‘as early as possible’.
He says the government has been very clear that a deal is required for both sides of the equation, not only for EU citizens living in the UK but for Brits living across Europe. Clear terms of exit are required along with clarity on the future relationship the UK and Brits alike will have with the European Union.
As the Ambassador talks to Brits across Spain, he is extremely conscious of the uncertainty – people have already ‘taken a hit’, particularly those relying on UK state pensions. He understands people are concerned about important issues such as healthcare and hopes to ease this widespread anxiety by securing a deal as early as possible.
Local Spanish governments, for example in Valencia, have reassured Brits that they are welcomed in Spain, not forseeing any problems post Brexit and the Ambassador believes this is correct.
Spanish government is, of course, keen to see Brits continue to live in Spain but also to continue the flow of British tourism. Spain saw almost 18 million British tourists last year, which equates to 1 and a half percent GDP and the Ambassador says ‘this matters enormously’.
In discussing sensationalism in the UK press, the Ambassador understands it can sometimes prove difficult to ascertain what is fact and fiction. He describes the government website (https://www.gov.uk/) as the best ‘one stop shop’ for the latest Brexit updates. What you read on .gov.uk is ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’.