It’s been a troubling week. Britain has voted in its referendum to leave the EU. For those who live outside the Sceptred Isle – whether citizens from the rest of the EU member states, or those Britons lucky enough to live as expatriates in another EU country – it is patently clear that we are in for some dangerous times: the threat of other countries looking to leave the EU, the threat of the markets, of a fall in British tourism, of the growth of European racism. For the British residents in Spain, anything could happen. We are warned of ‘scaremongering’ (we were before the referendum, too) and we are told to keep calm by Simon Manley, the British ambassador: ‘The truth is that right now, nothing has changed. You can still live here, work here, just as you did before’, says the highest representative of the UK in Spain. In a similar vein, ‘It’ll take at least two years before anything happens’ says the free English-language press, understandably worried about both the future of their advertisers and of themselves.
Many Britons living in Europe are considering taking out nationality from another European state, and are searching anxiously for Irish grand-mothers, or Italian grand-fathers. Perhaps the Scots would leave the UK and join the EU (while we hold our collective breath and search for a Scottish nan). Never has the lottery of having an immigrant forebear been so intriguing.
Others still are looking to take out Spanish nationality through the longer process of fulfilling the criteria (ten years on the padrón, a good knowledge of both the language and the culture, history and politics, as asked in a fifty-point questionnaire). Another plan is to sign some Internet petition, in the hope that the British or European governments will cast aside the referendum results, or allow us to take a European or a Nansen Passport.
Spain would never throw us out; they need our money (we say, plaintively).
But, there is another factor that edges us towards a ‘perfect storm’. This is the nationalist Spanish minister from the Partido Popular reminiscent of Nigel Farage called José Manuel García-Margallo who wants Spain to absorb Gibraltar in some way. Nothing much is planned for the Gibraltarians, thank-you, just the real-estate. For the 30,000 inhabitants, they can either go ‘back’ to the UK, or they can become unwilling (and potentially rebellious) Spaniards.
What would London think? Would the Brits here become in some way involved?
For the British living in Spain, unwilling to ever return to the UK, and without the vote either there or, in due course, here; perhaps without the European EHIC health coverage card and with their British pensions frozen to 2016 levels, without the opportunity of work and possibly in need of a visa to stay here (it could potentially even be worse than this, it depends on what the British Government – when there finally is one – decides to ‘do’ to its foreigners), we shall be known – and probably forgotten – as ‘The Castaways’.
FromSur in English: ‘Cómpeta town hall (Málaga) is ordered to demolish illegal house while Rincón de la Victoria studies options. The owner told officials he was unable to pay for the demolition himself; while councillors study new plan to find solution for 600 illegal homes. Cómpeta town hall was ordered by a court last week to pull down a house built on non-urban land. In the same week residents of up to 600 homes in Rincón de la Victoria attended a meeting where they were assured that no houses would be demolished unless by court order...’.
‘Banks accept the latest sentences and pay back the money to those affected in Almanzora Country Club (Huma Mediterraneo)’, say lawyers White & Baos in the Round Town News.
If the British choose Brexit, said El Español last week, the pound will fall and the British tourists, who leave 444€ every second in Spain (14,000 million euros last year), will start to spend less. The story and graph here.
The preferred AVE route from Algeciras to the north is the ‘centre corridor’ (that’s to say, via Madrid) rather than the Mediterranean route, saysHorasur. The European Union and the Ministry of Development both prefer this alternative and have earmarked a further 500 million euros for the route.
General Elections June 26:
‘...Six months after an historic election that fractured Spain’s traditional two-party system but failed to produce a government, Spanish voters returned to the polls Sunday and, in an unexpected move, turned away from the two upstart parties that had burst onto the national scene in the December polls. Just days after the seismic shock of Brexit, Spain turned back to the safety of the known. The big beneficiary of the return to tradition was acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose centre-right Partido Popular (PP) won 33% of the vote for 147 seats in the 350 deputy parliament, recovering 14 of the 63 seats it had lost in December and making it the only party that gained both seats and votes (almost 700,000) in the election...’. Found at Fortune.
A remarkable opinion piece from the so-called leftist El País: ‘The PP’s win is a sad affair. Voters sent the PSOE to the opposition, where it should allow a government by whoever has enough votes for it’. Rather than a third round in December, or a left-wing coalition, the newspaper suggests that Rajoy steps aside and allows another Popular to find broad support to become president. Oddly, Susana Díaz, the President of the Junta de Andalucía (and power in the PSOE firmament) seems to accept a Rajoy presidency and says that the PSOE should join the Opposition, reports El Huff Posthere. The PSOE needs to take care not to be seen as an active supporter or partner of the Partido Popular if it wants to hold on to its reputation with its supporters intact.
Spaniards won’t agree to a third round of general elections, says Juan Bravo from the PP, with a certain amount of sense. Juan is the deputy for Ceuta, and has the highest majority of any PP leader in Spain. He is interviewed by El Huff Posthere.
Alarmingly, the PP’s reputation for corruption (justified or otherwise) seems to have played no part in the voting. Granada, for example, where the PP mayor was arrested only a few weeks ago, saw support for the party grow by 5,000 votes. Jordi Évole, the popular TV reporter and interviewer, says that ‘neither corruption nor cuts have made any difference in the support for the PP’.
Why were the surveys so far removed from the reality at the urns, asksEl Huff Post? The answer seems to have been the higher than real estimation of the attraction of Podemos linked to the Izquierda Unida. In reality, the party didn’t gain or lose seats, while both the PSOE and the Ciudadanos did, with the PP picking up the difference. Once again, the four party leaders are in talks...
‘The leadership of Spain’s insurgent left-wing Unidos Podemos coalition continued Tuesday to try to figure out what exactly happened in Sunday’s general elections to cause the coalition’s much-touted ‘sorpasso’ (literally, ‘surpassing’) of the Socialist party (PSOE) as the leader of the left-opposition to fizzle into a disappointing result marked by the loss of 1.2 million votes from the coalition partners’ combined results in the last general election in December...’. FromProgressive Spain.
‘Spain’s animal-rights party PACMA won more than 284,000 votes for 1.19 percent of the national vote in Congressional races on Sunday, an increase of more than 64,000 votes over its vote total in December — but because of Spain’s skewed electoral law favoring incumbent parties over newcomers, it will have no seats when the new Congress is sworn in on 19th July...’. FromProgressive Spain (Rover for President!).
Were the surprising results of the elections kosher? Everyone seems to think so – or almost everyone. Here is Ataque al Poder who describes how ‘they’ did it in ‘Don’t be fooled, there was a scam in the elections of 26-J’.
‘Three days after Spain held a repeat national election, negotiations to form a new government have yet to start. There is talk in political circles that acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who reinforced his December victory with an even bigger lead over his rivals this past Sunday, may delay these negotiations until next week. In a complicated scenario where the winning Popular Party (PP) still lacks a parliamentary majority, having secured 137 seats in the 350-deputy chamber, not even party leaders are certain of what will happen in the coming weeks...’. From El País in Englishhere. A later story, posted by Reuters, says that Rajoy is due to start talks with the other parties from today, Thursday.
Mariano Rajoy doesn’t want any example of secession or sovereignty, says Vozpópuli, discussing the Brexit results in the UK, ‘if the United Kingdom goes, then Scotland goes as well’. Story and video here.
From El Mundo, comes a report that thirteen people at the Adif in Barcelona have been arrested following the misuse of eighty-two million euros in the building of the AVE lines approaching the city’s station of La Sagrera. La Sexta has a video that claims that some of the public funds went on prostitutes, skiing holidays and some really quite splendid lunches.
In a joke article found at El Ventano, Unidos Podemos says that in the next elections, it will put Spain’s five hundred most famous crooks onto its party list in an attempt to increase its attraction to the electorate.
‘The Former Catalan President Artur Mas, former Catalan Vice President, Joana Ortega and former Minister for Education, Irene Rigau will ultimately be put on trial for alleged disobedience and perversion of justice in organising the 9-N symbolic vote on independence, in November 2014. Thus, the appeal made by the defences for the accused calling the judge to close the file, hasn’t been upheld...’. From Vilawebhere.
Perhaps we need another week to help clear what is going on... and what isn’t.
Some links on Brexit issues:
FromNPR (last Thursday): ‘U.K. Expats in Spain Nervously Watch Brexit Balloting’.
FromBusiness Insider: ‘Britain is broken beyond repair — and the worst is yet to come’.
FromThe Guardian: ‘EU parliament leader: we want Britain out as soon as possible’.
FromThe Scotsman: ‘Nicola Sturgeon announces plans for second indyref’.
FromPolitico: ‘English will not be an official EU language after Brexit, says senior MEP’.
From Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (video and article from The Independent): ‘...“There are hundreds of thousands of expat, United Kingdom citizens, living around Europe, who did not vote in the referendum”, Sir Roger Gale said in the chamber. “Many of them are elderly and frail. They live on UK pensions and UK benefits. Will my right honourable friend [the PM] ensure that his successor defends their interest?”
Mr Cameron replied: “On this issue of British citizens living overseas, I think we should reassure people that until Britain leaves the EU, there’s absolutely no change in their status.”
FromKyero (property): ‘What Brexit means for British buyers’
FromExpat Madrid (a blog): ‘Brexit: Revenge of the Euro-Rednecks’.
FromClaire Broadley (a blog): ‘So. You want me to be happy?’
FromSpanish Shilling (Lenox’ blog): ‘The Brexit (El Reino Desunido)’.
FromWall Street Journal: ‘British Expats Face Uncertain Future After Brexit. Around 1.2 million Britons live in the EU’s 27 other member states’.
FromThe Olive Press: ‘Number of Britons looking to move abroad increases by 30% post-Brexit’.
The Sun offers some unpleasant stories of the satisfaction felt in British towns following the result of the referendum. An earlier (raunchier) version was evidently removed by the editor, but the web-link still gives the flavour: ‘xxxstreets-full-of-polish-shops-kids-not-speaking-english-but-union-jacks-now-flying-high-again’. Here.
The Olive Press: ‘Government of Gibraltar moves to reassure public amid Brexit fears’. Here.
From the Daily Star: Gibraltar will be harder to protect outside EU – shock admission as nuclear sub arrives’
El País in English: ‘Brexit: how will it affect Spanish companies in the UK?’ Here.
Sur in English: ‘Javier González de Lara: "This is not good news for Málaga - Brits are poorer, as from now". The President of the Confederation of Malaga Businesses says tourism will suffer, and so will exports and incoming investment’. Here.
FromThe Local: ‘How Brexit could now shatter dreams of buying in Spain’.
FromExpansión: ‘Las ocho amenazas del Brexit para España’.
FromCinco Días: ‘El ‘brexit’ y el turismo residencial en España’.
FromGuerra Eterna: ‘¿Cuántos británicos deberían arrepentirse del voto por el Brexit?’
FromCadena Ser: ‘Británicos se plantean la nacionalidad española ante el posible triunfo del Brexit’.
FromLa Voz de Almería: La Junta creará un grupo de trabajo para analizar y minimizar los efectos del ‘Brexit’. El Reino Unido es el primer país inversor en Andalucía y el quinto destino de las exportaciones.FromDavid Jackson: ‘Junta seeks to mitigate effects of Brexit’ – ‘Brexit has panicked the Junta de Andalucía, as it has the potential to devastate the economy of the region...’.
FromDiario Sur: ‘El resultado del referéndum, la peor noticia para la Costa del Sol’.
FromEl Diario: ‘Bruselas quiere el divorcio cuanto antes pero Londres se resiste’.
FromEl País (opinion by John Carlin): ‘Los británicos nos han demostrado que la política no es, o no debería ser, un juego frívolo’
Lenox, writing in Almería Hoy: ‘El Reino Desunido (¿Y qué pasará con los emigrantes?)’.
FromLa Comarca (Almería): ‘El resultado del ‘Brexit’ preocupa a los británicos del Almanzora’.
From comedian John Oliver: ‘Brexit aftermath’ video on YouTube (NSFW).
…and finally, from Paris, ‘Brexit: dearest English friends, thank you!’ fromLibération. ‘...An incredibly brave choice because it has politically devastated and will economically weaken your country, for which Europe will be eternally grateful to you...’. Heh!
‘Spain: where who you know still matters more than what you know? Inequality is growing in Spanish society, with an outdated education system and nepotism fuelling the differences’. An article at El País in English.
Spain has a weakness for renaming its streets following local political pressure. An article from The Guardian: ‘Where the streets have new names: the airbrush politics of renaming roads. Is naming a street after a controversial character like Margaret Thatcher – or Bobby Sands – simply superficial, or can it cut to the heart of a city’s identity?’
‘If you're over 60, you can get a discount card from the national operator, RENFE. This is called La Tarjeta Dorada. In English, ‘The Gold Card’. Or, rather, this is what it should be. But RENFE apparently use an 11 year old with a dictionary for their English translations. He or she has given them ‘The Sea Bream Card’. You can guess why’. Found at Colin Davies’ Thoughts From Galicia, here.
To the British ambassador, Simon Manley:
Britons came to live in Spain; assured that it was a safe place to retire to. They bought homes which were often declared 'illegal' (after the cheque had cleared). Many elderly Britons still suffer from no water or electric hook-up. Many others have been tricked, or conned, or bankrupted by either putting their trust in their fellow-countrymen, or putting it with unscrupulous local people. In all that time, help from our British representatives has been, at best 'slight'. Helen and Len Prior, over eight years living in their garage in Vera after their home was bulldozed in January 2008, could speak of this help. They have themselves been in the parliaments of Seville and Madrid and Brussels. What are we to think? Many of us were disallowed from voting in this revolting referendum, thanks to a British idea called 'the fifteen-year rule'. If it becomes necessary, will you help us now? Lenox Napier
I do not envy you the task of having to comment on the last elections. 30% of voters supporting the corruption! Now all hinges on the wishy-washy Sanchez; will he dare to form a left coalition together with Podemos and C? Maybe it was good that the Sorpasso did not happen.
I enjoyed immensely your article "The Brexit" and think many EU citizens in Spain will have had some sleepless nights this week.
You wrote in your column about the problems Brexit will cause to the Brits in sunny Spain. One of the problems is the need to go "private" when it comes to medical insurance. So I had a quick look around at the cost of private medical insurance.
I didn't immediately rush out and get a firm quotation, but just looked at some general figures. Apparently a 70-year old male in reasonably good health who doesn't smoke would pay around £2,200 per year. Multiply that by the number of Brits living more or less permanently in Spain (who knows, but I think that 800,000 could well be the figure, since so many people do not register themselves, or only live "part of the year" in Spain) and divide by 365 - and you come to £4.75 million per day. Perhaps not quite £350 million per day, but still quite a bit of loose change.
One thing you didn't mention which will cause quite a lot of problems. On my 70th birthday my life time UK driving licence ran out. I asked if I could continue my UK licence, but the Brits won't have it. So I swapped my UK licence for a Spanish licence. Lost the ability to drive 7.5 ton vehicles and motorbikes in the process, but I do not (often) need to drive those vehicles. However, if the UK leaves the EU, I will probably have to go back and get a UK driving licence (not sure, but I don't want to ask, since I prefer to let sleeping dogs lie). And if I have to get a UK licence, I will have to take a British driving test, since the UK does not recognise the driving licences of other countries. Not sure whether I could pass the theory part of the UK driving test, and I will need extensive practice in driving on the left once more and managing the shift stick with my left hand. Oh what fun!
Business Over TapasJune 30 2016 Nº 167
A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:
with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner
For subscriptions and other information about this site, go to businessovertapas.com
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