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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

The Rudderless Island
Sunday, February 18, 2024 @ 6:29 AM

Those of us who moved to Spain from the United Kingdom will have our view about how the old country has either prospered or gone to the dogs since the Brexit, or perhaps even before that particular upset.

My dad used to trace Britain’s final decline to the Suez Crisis in 1956. Now, I think it was when they arrested Julian Assange in 2010 on a trumped-up rape charge (oh look, I’ve gone and used the t-word!).

But we all have opinions. Those of us Brits who are living in Spain have other things to think about – unless we are among those unfortunates who find themselves enmeshed in the 90/180 Schengen Trap – then it’s a daily and anxious look at the calendar and the doubt about who to look after the house for the next three months.

Another way to look at the UK comes from a Spanish journalist who works at El País called Ana Carbajosa, who after travelling extensively across Britain has written a book called ‘Una Isla a la Deriva’: the drifting (or rudderless) island. The write-up provided by the printers, Península, says, ‘When did the United Kingdom collapse? How is it possible that the empire in which the sun never set has ended up becoming an increasingly isolated, fragmented and unequal place? How much has Brexit contributed to deepening cracks that had been opening for decades? How were unscrupulous politicians like Boris Johnson or Liz Truss able to end up running the country?’ interviews Ms Carbajosa. Their first question is: ‘What misconceptions are there in Spain about the United Kingdom?’

She answers, ‘We probably think that the United Kingdom is a unit and that the United Kingdom is the English (los ingleses). In truth, the United Kingdom is a very complex and diverse country due to the geographical and regional differences that, as the experts I spoke with for the book explained to me, are the most noteworthy in all of Europe. In all European countries there are differences between rich and poor regions, but the poor ones are not as poor as those in the United Kingdom, which is (by the way) also the sixth largest economy in the world. There is a brutal regional inequality that we are not aware of and that has contributed to Brexit and other political phenomena’.

She tells us that the media and politicians who she meets there talk of ‘Broken Britain’.

But that’s all happening elsewhere. We live in Spain, with its own triumphs and failures (of which, if we stick to The Euro Weekly and other low-shooting English-language media, we are blissfully unaware of).

Perhaps we can stay here – or perhaps some hostile currents in Iberian politics or the media (chucking Spaniards out of the UK needs some retaliation, maybe) may send us abruptly home. There are 5,700 Spaniards currently living in the UK under threat of deportation.

After all, as we fail to concern ourselves about Rishi Sunak’s hostility towards the immigrants, it’s not like we have the ear of the Spanish legislators.

Most unlikely, of course, but there you go. We live in unlikely times.  

Like 4


Caverswall said:
Sunday, February 25, 2024 @ 11:29 AM

We have had our home in Spain for 37 years and finally became resident in 2007. Lately I have become interested in the type of democracy practiced here. The major party with less votes than the other major party became ensconced by the one time approval of six of the minor parties in spite of the fact that any one of the minor parties may at some time disagree with the others and cause nothing to actually be passed into law. I find this entertaining but obviously would seem to lead to a stalemate.

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