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The UK's 200,000 Spanish expats worry about Brexit and call for back-up from their national leaders
21 June 2016 @ 15:29

SPANIARDS living in the UK – officially just over 200,000 – are concerned about the possible effects on their lives of a Brexit and are urging candidates for this Sunday's general election in Spain to take positive action.

So far, only Podemos has travelled to the UK to campaign for Britain to stay in the European Union, although all parties vying for presidency across the scale from far-left to right are against a Brexit and have warned of consequences for Spain and the UK if it prospers.

Aside from the more than 300 Spanish firms based in the UK – including Zara's parent firm Inditex; Mango; Manolo Blahnik; Santander bank; Telefónica and other major market players – and over 700 firms based in Spain funded by British capital, the UK is Spain's third-largest trading partner after France and Germany, representing around €55 billion of its imports and having exported nearly €5bn to Britain just in the first quarter of 2016.

Financial markets are already showing a fall in Sterling, which reduces when the polls show Brexit is in the lead but slightly increases if the 'Bremain' camp's success looks more likely – and Spain worries that this will make Brits' family holidays to their favourite sunshine destination too expensive, reducing numbers, and cutting the amount they spend on their visits.

But those who feel most ignored by their potential national leaders are the nearly quarter of a million Spaniards living and working in the UK.

Many of these have moved to Britain either to find work, or to enable them to practise their chosen profession which they have been unable to do at home, and their long-term plans often involve returning home when the Spanish job market evolves sufficiently.

Others, the very elderly, were child evacuees in the Civil War, and others were exiles during Franco's reign – or even children born to British expats in Spain who have Spanish nationality.

They are very worried that a Brexit would affect their right to use public services in the UK, or to claim unemployment benefits or income support if their professional luck takes a temporary turn for the worse.

Spain's electoral candidates, complain Spaniards in Britain, have not made any public announcements about their Brexit concerns, only giving their opinion when pointedly asked by the media.

“It would be the worst possible news in economic terms for many, many years,” warned acting president Mariano Rajoy (PP).

“A Brexit would be a disaster for the Spanish stockmarket – and all stockmarkets – so I hope the British public will vote to stay in; last but not least, because we in Europe want them to remain.”



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