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A Foot in Two Campos

Thoughts from a brand new home-owner in the Axarquía region of Málaga. I hope there might be some information and experiences of use to other new purchasers, plus the occasional line to provoke thought or discussion.

184 - Nothing has Changed ....?
23 February 2020 @ 11:32

At Málaga airport they let me through the normal passport queue.  A relief.  The EU citizens’ queue.  My first flight after THAT date.  Exit day.  The guy at the passport desk said we could continue to use that line all this year, apart from odd days where they would “trial” sending us through the other queue, just to check that it’ll all work smoothly.  Landing at Bournemouth nothing had changed, but then it is only a portakabin-style arrivals hall, nothing very high-security.
 

In the press they insist that nothing has changed.  Some so-called journalists even state dogmatically that we haven’t actually left yet.  They are clearly wrong.  But so are the ones who say that nothing has changed yet, and that everything stays the same until December 31st.  They are wrong too.
 

I’m on my flight back home, after a week visiting friends in Dorset (and stocking up on teabags and hot cross buns).  Over the next few days I must confirm numbers in the bar where we have organised a surprise farewell party for a good friend being forced back to live in the UK.  There is always a tangle of reasons, but she would not be going if the British government had not decided that being tough on freedom of movement was their top priority.  I must pop in at Los Ángeles Malagueños de la Noche to pick up their message of thanks to her.  She has been tireless in organising a network of volunteer collectors and drivers, the doll workshops for the children’s presents and the spongebag assembly lines, and all this on top of rescuing countless abandoned cats.  Undoubtedly, back in England, this whirlwind of selfless energy will waste no time in making herself invaluable to her local human and feline communities, but none of that takes away from the fact that she cannot live where she has made her home.  That’s a change.
 

You know that fundamental principle, “No taxation without representation”?  Well that has changed, too.  Those who have lived overseas for more than fifteen years had already lost their votes in the UK.  But at least they have been able to vote in the municipal elections in their adopted country.  Not any more.  Those of us in Spain, yes.  Spain has signed a treaty extending suffrage to us, despite us being “extra-comunitario” (outside the EU).  Not so in all EU countries.  Social media groups of British people in Europe are full of complaints that many people are paying taxes both in the UK and in their adopted country, yet have no vote anywhere.  That’s a change.
 

And we check those advice groups every day.  Those valiant groups of brilliant volunteers who pore over every missive from the UK and Spanish governments, updating us on every change.  THEY know that it’s not true to say that nothing has changed.  We await news about how Spain will organise the issuing of the new cards.  The TIE.  Tarjeta de Identificación Extranjera.  The foreigners’ card.  For extra-comunitarios.  For outsiders.  Our little green residency cards, applied for with such trepidation, received with disproportionate delight, will be taken from us this year.  We might be done alphabetically, we don’t know how they will administrate it.  For Spain it’s a big task.  For each of us, it’s another change.  A piece of plastic that identifies us as extra-comunitarios, as outsiders.  As people with “permission to reside” but not the RIGHT to live in our homes.  That’s a change.
 

And now the UK has published its new points-based immigration system and has classified all the EU care-workers and hospitality staff as “low-skilled”.  The Facebook groups of EU citizens in the UK have exploded with anger.  Thousands more are abandoning their applications for Settled Status and heading home.  They understand perfectly well that the new system is for future incomers, but they have felt the change in atmosphere, they have felt unwanted, and this has been the last straw.  That’s a change.
 

So we say to the journalists, the political commentators, the phone-in hosts, and the politicians:  we are no longer “Remoaners” but we are still British citizens.  And every time you insist that nothing has changed it is another reminder that we were never remembered in all this, never considered.
 

In the media last week there was much laughter at the now infamous Colin, the Brexiteer who was stuck in a queue at passport control at Schiphol Airport, going through the slow, non-EU queue.  He tweeted his disgust, adding the hashtag “Not the Brexit I voted for”.  Well yes, Colin, yes it is.  Did you imagine that stopping freedom of movement would not impact you?  Or me?  Or my friend moving back?  Sigh.  But, with effort, I remember my mantra – blame the conners, not the conned.  I genuinely hope that all the good things that people believed they were voting for DO appear.  I hope that working conditions improve and that people who felt that the eastern European workers were depressing their wages and their prospects, now get their promotions and their pay-rises.  I hope for a fully-funded NHS.  I hope the government will replace all the EU funding that Wales, Cornwall and Cumbria have lost.  I hope that taking back control means that Parliament and the justice system are in control (though the new Attorney General seems to take a different view).  I hope our farmers will be reimbursed for the lost subsidies, and that food standards and animal welfare will be improved.  I spend a lot of time hoping.
 

Everyone wants this to work.  Everyone.  Regardless of how we voted.  Food security, jobs, the environment and working conditions – they are all way too important for us not to all be on the same side.  We’re all leavers now.  I want it to work, truly.   But don’t palm me off with platitudes that nothing has changed.  For those in the UK that might be true.  But from where we stand over here, a lot has changed, and not for the better.  I hope that Colin does get the Brexit he voted for, and that all the 17.4 million get the one they wanted, too.  Because if not, what the hell has it all been for?
 

The airport bus whizzes me in to the centre of Málaga.  There’s a fiesta going on, a festival of graffiti in Plaza de la Marina, combined with a basketball festival.   Málaga doesn’t change much.  Even when it changes, it doesn’t really change.  There’s pretty much always a fiesta of some sort in Málaga.  I wander as the artists demonstrate urban art and the youngsters shoot hoops, and finally I settle with a coffee in the 23°C sunshine.  Please don’t change, Málaga.  Over the last four years I’ve discovered that I don’t like change, much.

 

©  Tamara  Essex  2020                                 http://www.twocampos.com

 



Like 2




9 Comments


Darren Hall said:
29 February 2020 @ 13:10

Just wanted to ask why your friend was 'forced' to leave Spain please?


rob_j1 said:
29 February 2020 @ 15:47

Just to add, you have people here in the UK who have "taxation without representation" as well. I'm an EU citizen, and have received quite a lot of negative comments, purely due to my name. Before I've even said a single thing, I often get told "If you're not British, then it's none of your business, so shut your mouth" along with "if you don't like it, go back home".

I really hate these kinds of comments, because I moved my entire family to the UK (twice), and have worked in numerous organisations, including the NHS, to try and help not only myself (because I don't work for free, and most people I know are in the same boat what with mortgages, etc), but also genuinely to help build a better nation.

And in return for that, I feel as though my family and I have been used as political pawns, then once the objective was achieved, we have been treated as an afterthought.

Despite living here, and paying taxes, I have been disallowed any vote on the direction of this place I call home, and disallowed to vote in the referendum. For the heinous crime of being Italian.

I could go on, but this has left a bad taste. We have sold our London property and moved into rented accommodation for now, while we figure out next steps. We have a house nearing completion in Spain, and I think we might try moving there next. The big issue will be figuring out how to get an income (I'm a project manager, and my wife is a social worker).

If there are any welcoming places around the south of Spain, please do let me know.


Torros said:
29 February 2020 @ 18:38

Why were the Brits living in Europe never allowed to vote on Brexit?


moonbeam said:
29 February 2020 @ 21:31

It´s very sad. As you say permission to reside that has to be renewed on a regular basis is never the same as "the right" to reside. Remember the old days when the Red Cross had to step in and intercede for the many British pensioners on basic UK state pension who fell well below the requirements of basic income for self sufficiency needed to renew their residence visas. They were quite happy managing on little, but government forms don´t take things like that into account.


frangipani said:
01 March 2020 @ 00:15

Such a good article. Good to know that not all Brits living in Spain and enjoying (up till now) the benefits of an integrated Europe are ‘Colins’. I still do not know what benefits any of us, either living here or in the UK, will gain from Brexit.


DJF42 said:
01 March 2020 @ 12:04

Tamara,
It took me a couple of reads of your post and and a nights sleep before I could respond.
The only thing I can do is to offer you my sincere condolences for the way you are feeling.
I cannot imagine how it must feel to be living with a glass as half empty as yours.
Please be assured that all your hopes will come to fruition.
And to think we will now have a plastic ID card instead of the flimsy credit card sized piece of green paper, which, BTW, was brought about by 12 British immigrants to Spain who protested though the ECHR that the Spanish government had no right to force them to have an ID card, QUE!
Try to keep the chin up, I will be thinking of you next year.
One last thing, there are three things you can be sure of in life:
Taxes, Death and Change.


tamaraessex said:
01 March 2020 @ 16:20

Hi all, thanks for the comments.

Darren, she has a complicated life, working in both countries, and it’s just not going to work for her under the new post-Brexit regime.

Rob, yes, I’ve been following some of the dreadful stories in a couple of internet fora of EU citizens in the UK, it’s massively depressing, and I’m sorry it has been targeted at you. Best of luck in your future home.

Torros - British people who have lived abroad for 15 years lose their vote even if they continue paying taxes in the UK. This is not the case for other EU nationals living out of their home countries.

Thanks for the condolences, DJF but they are wholly unnecessary. All of us who have changed country at least once have a heightened awareness of all the possibilities and our abilities to live where we want and create the lives that we want. If there was anything about my life that I didn’t like, I would be somewhere else doing something different. Bit fortunately (though not entirely by luck!) my life is exactly as I would wish it to be. My cup overfloweth so my glass is never half empty!





tamaraessex said:
01 March 2020 @ 16:20

Hi all, thanks for the comments.

Darren, she has a complicated life, working in both countries, and it’s just not going to work for her under the new post-Brexit regime.

Rob, yes, I’ve been following some of the dreadful stories in a couple of internet fora of EU citizens in the UK, it’s massively depressing, and I’m sorry it has been targeted at you. Best of luck in your future home.

Torros - British people who have lived abroad for 15 years lose their vote even if they continue paying taxes in the UK. This is not the case for other EU nationals living out of their home countries.

Thanks for the condolences, DJF but they are wholly unnecessary. All of us who have changed country at least once have a heightened awareness of all the possibilities and our abilities to live where we want and create the lives that we want. If there was anything about my life that I didn’t like, I would be somewhere else doing something different. Bit fortunately (though not entirely by luck!) my life is exactly as I would wish it to be. My cup overfloweth so my glass is never half empty!





Torros said:
01 March 2020 @ 17:44

Hi Tamara,

How can the "15 year rule" be LEAGAL as we where still in the EU at the time of the EU vote?

Best regards



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