Brexit: Expat Emma Smith from Dunlop tells us what the decision to leave the EU means for her in Barcelona

“Following the result, the reaction here in Spain was one of total shock and from what I gather this was also the feeling back home even amongst some ‘leave’ supporters."

The fall-out over Britain’s decision to leave the European Union continues to be felt across Scotland.

Since the result of the referendum, the Prime Minister has resigned, the UK Labour party is in bits, and most of the figures that spearheaded the ‘leave’ campaign have left the sinking ship.

Our future and the impact of the decision remains unclear, but increasingly makes for uneasy reading on a daily basis as the situation becomes more entangled.

As well as the uncertainty over what it means here in the UK, the decision to leave the EU is sure to impact expats on the continent.

Originally from Dunlop, former Stewarton Academy and Glasgow Caledonian University student Emma Smith is one such expat who is concerned over the outcome of the referendum.

Living and working in the Raval district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Emma watched from afar the ups and downs of British politics and polls in the weeks before the Brexit referendum.

Here’s how she, and those in her adopted home of Barcelona, view the Brexit decision:

“Like the thousands of other British expats here in Spain, or living throughout Europe, I voted by proxy to stay in the European Union (EU) and remained hopeful and quietly confident that I would wake up on June 24 to business as usual, never anticipating a win for the ‘leave’ campaign and an uncertain future as British / Scottish expat in Europe.

“Following the result, the reaction here in Spain was one of total shock and from what I gather this was also the feeling back home even amongst some ‘leave’ supporters.

“I have been asked frequently what does the United Kingdom have to gain from leaving the EU, but as someone who has enjoyed only the benefits of European citizenship I can’t comprehend any rationale for leaving the union.
“As a European citizen I am fortunate to have been able to spend time studying in the Netherlands with the help of an ERASMUS grant available to all European students.

“The following year I boarded a flight and moved to the Republic of Ireland, no questions asked, where I ended up studying, working and calling Dublin home for three years.

“Then mid-April last year I settled here in Barcelona where, aside from some bureaucratic paperwork to get an national identification number and bank account, I felt nothing but welcome - even as an immigrant who upon arrival spoke not a word of the local language.

“No visas or fees involved, no immigration officers, no language tests or points systems. I never imagined that one day it might not be possible, or so simple, to study, work and move freely within Europe.

“The referendum result is certainly seen here in Spain, and throughout Europe most probably, as a reflection of the rise of right-wing politics in Britain, a victory for those hell-bent on keeping out immigrants from neighbouring nations and an outdated belief that Great Britain can prosper and protect itself in total isolation from Europe.

“I haven’t yet faced any difficulties in light of the Brexit vote and with the current leadership chaos at Westminster, negotiations still to take place for Britain’s exit, if and when, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked, and Nicola Sturgeon putting up a fight on Scotland’s behalf to remain in the EU, the long-term impact of the referendum remains unclear.

“At this point I am not particularly worried that I will have to move back to the UK, although in the future the reality is it could be much more difficult for me to stay here in Spain or travel and work elsewhere in Europe.

“If Britain, upon leaving the EU, was to introduce a points based immigration system similar to the Australian model, then perhaps I would have reason to worry as other European nations might, and understandably so, reciprocate Britain’s not-so-welcoming immigration policy.

“Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had already issued a dire warning in the weeks before the referendum that a vote for Brexit could jeopardise the rights of British citizens living and working in Spain, of which there are around 400,000 .

“While thousands of these expats are well integrated into Spanish life, language and culture there are also many surviving here without speaking a word of Spanish, enjoying retirement in isolated British communities on the coast, working for British telecommunications companies based in Barcelona, or running businesses from sunny Spain with no work contract and without the necessary national identification paperwork.

“Stricter immigration policies would not only affect European citizens in Britain, but possibly also those Brits currently enjoying the freedoms of EU membership from abroad.

“Following the results last week, and the clear disparity between voter opinions north and south of the Scottish border, here in Catalonia there is definitely a feeling of sympathy for Scotland a view that the nation’s fate is being decided for us and forced upon us.

“Of course, with their own parliament and separate identity, the Catalans have always felt a strong sense of alliance with Scotland, and living here I am reminded often of the obvious parallels between Scotland and Catalonia.
“However, it is not just from the Catalans I feel a resurgence in support for Scottish independence, but from others European expats living here German, Finnish, Italian, French.

“Even English expats here understand why Scotland may now want to hold another referendum and envy me that I could one day get the opportunity to join Europe as part of an independent Scotland.

“With no exceptions though, fellow expats here British, English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish, share my sense of sadness and disappointment at the outcome of the referendum and that the possibilities and opportunities which once came so easily may now be lost for us and for future generations.”

Published: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/brexit-expat-emma-smith-dunlop-8377951#BQK2cmv1s5zAxgwl.99

Newsarchive

Links

Latest news