From Brexit with love

© Scottish Government

David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon.

WHILST accepting that the UK government is totally committed to its stance of recommending that Britain remains within the EU following the June 23 referendum, a worrying report (for some) which was written by the Cabinet Office and published on February 29 suggests that if Britain voted to leave the Union, it would have a considerable negative impact on both the economy and the status of expats living in countries such as Spain.

In simple terms, ‘Article 50’ of the Treaty on European Union says  that any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements and that it has two years to negotiate an alternative relationship with Brussels and its 27 members.

The report states categorically that the average time to negotiate trade agreements and the like can be more than eight years and it concludes that it would take at least 10 years before all agreements could be signed with all parties, but if there are only two years to negotiate then expats living and working within the EU could find themselves in serious difficulty.

It is possible to extend the negotiation period but only if all 27 members agree and it is pretty likely that some at least will look for significant concessions from the UK before signifying their agreement.

David Lidington, the Europe minister, warned that a British exit from the bloc would be a “massive” risk and said “everything we take for granted about access to the single market” would be in question.

“Trade deals between the EU and other countries and bilateral trade deals of any type normally take six, seven, eight years and counting. Everything we take for granted about access to the single market – trade taking place without customs checks or paperwork at national frontiers, the right of British citizens to go and live in Spain or France – those would all be up in the air. It is massive. It is massive what is at risk”.

Anna Soubry, a business minister, also said that Britain would face “undoubted chaos” following any exit although those in favour of Britain leaving, accuse the government of scaremongering in an effort to shock voters into taking positive action to secure Britain’s position within the EU.

Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon also entered into the discussion asking both sides to use rational arguments rather than simply concentrating on the financial aspects of the situation.

“For more than 40 years, membership of the European Union has been good for the prosperity and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities across the country,” she wrote in the Guardian, saying “by working together within the EU, we can achieve far more and make a real difference to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

The debate will continue on a daily basis, but this is the first time that the government has made it clear that in its opinion, chaos will inevitably follow a vote to leave and expats will potentially be some of the greatest losers.

It is up to each voter to decide what they want to achieve from the referendum and which side has the most compelling and believable argument. One thing that is certain however is that an expat living in the EU following any decision to leave will be in a quite different position to that they are now in whilst Britain is still a member.


Author badge placeholder
Written by

Euro Weekly News Media

Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page


    • hannah

      29 February 2016 • 14:11

      Anyone who has the right to vote who does NOT use it here in Spain or indeed anywhere in Europe should be deported back to live in Britain and stripped of all of their beneits and entitlements.
      Britain will NEVER be allowed to leave Europe as the ramifications for so many are so huge.
      However we cannot afford one gram of apathy to filter through here – we ALL need to vote with our feet.
      As once this craziness begins we will never be able to stop the descent.

    • Sue

      29 February 2016 • 15:29

      What does the first part of your statement mean? Are you talking about the referendum or voting for other things? We cannot vote in Spain for this and those of us who have lived in Spain for more than 15 years cannot vote at all in the UK. So please leave the threats out!

    • Percy

      29 February 2016 • 16:14

      This is scaremonger talking at its worst as it refers to U.K. Ex Pats and does not mention the opposites who live in Britain, French, Germans and others. My understanding is of another international treaty, where it states if countries change their treaties it does not effect the living standards of persons who have moved to another climate, including pensions and health care. There is a recent case of this happening when Iceland went broke and left the E.U. the people who had moved there were not effected, however they became better of because the country had shrugged off the yolk of Brussels.

    • John Smith EWN

      29 February 2016 • 16:45


      It wasn`t meant as a threat but a report about what the government has said. The statement was also intended to suggest that the report was provided to a government that wishes to remain in the EU.

    • John Smith EWN

      29 February 2016 • 16:47


      As a matter of fact, Iceland was never a member of the EU, they applied to join but because of the parlous state of their economy, which is now happily on the mend, they withdrew their application in 2013.

      Thank you however for taking the trouble to comment which we always welcome.

    • Fergs

      29 February 2016 • 17:11

      Deportation BACK to Britain (what if they are Northern Irish?) for not voting in a referendum for the UK’s future? What an absurd thing to suggest!
      Also – what DO you mean that we should vote WITH OUR FEET? Where are you suggesting that we go?

    • Mike in ESP

      29 February 2016 • 21:22

      I agree completely Percy, some of the things that are coming to light if true are scandalous and show how desperate the DC is to get a stay in vote, makes me very worried about most of the current government to be honest!

      I tried to post some links to help with peoples worries about a week ago on another post but EWN didn’t let my post through, because of the links I guess. One of them was saying the situation with Expats basically could not change much because it was drawn up somewhere that their rights would not be affected after a country would withdraw from the EU, the problem is that information will not come from the EU, the UK government or any other party that doesn’t want to leave.

      I see the government today issued a document about taxes the EU will enforce if we leave, when a government representative was interviewed on it by SKY they then stated it was ‘a worse case scenario’ but it is nothing more than scaremongering! The UK had a trade deficit with the EU over £55 Billion last year… and the government is trying to tell people they will tax us! There are misleading scoundrels, con artists to be polite… the government is treating the British people like they are stupid idiots! Hopefully the OUT camps along with others such as business leaders that don’t get payments from the EU will get themselves together to make things clear to the British public before the vote.

    • Mike in ESP

      29 February 2016 • 21:26

      Could you explain the ‘ramifications’ in leaving and where you get your information from. It would be helpful if you don’t post any that are an organisation, business or a person who receives finance or payment from the EU, in other words none that are of self interest.

    • Peter G.

      29 February 2016 • 22:07

      I have lived abroad on mainland Europe for 13 years and I do not expect 64 million British to vote to stay in because of myself and 2 million others. I personally think it would make very little difference which ever way the vote went, I lived in Almeria in 1971 for 6 mouths before Britain joined the EU and it was packed with expats living there then. If things go pear shaped and we all have to leave then what happens, happens. But you must remember that the EU does not have the authority to dictate to members countries who and what nationality they admit to their country.

    • Brian Eagleson

      01 March 2016 • 07:48

      Mike, while I agree for the most part with your comment and in fact have posted similar criticism of the politicians on both sides elsewhere I would like to know what you think about the following.

      There are hundreds of thousands of British expats living here who have never bothered to apply for a N.I.E. or register to pay tax among other things. If they do not posess a N.I.E. and they spend more than 3 months here, if Britain leaves will they not become illegal immigrants?

      As you know, back before the EU was born you had to register as an immigrant. The freedom of movement legislation within the EU partly dispensed with that need, although other legal aspects remain, but my point is at the moment these hundreds of thousands are NOT illegal immigrants. However if they don’t do something about their status and Britain leaves they might be in for a shock. This is potentially a deeply serious issue.

    • kay peukert

      01 March 2016 • 10:47

      I wish that we would stop getting all the scaremongering
      more so when we cannot do anything having ‘lost our right to vote’
      We need some one to take on our case and follow through. Gov told me that I needed x amount to live on and then I had to go to court to get it – came back to spain and lost it. I got wfa for ALL of 3years and depsite european court saying uk had to pay it we have lost it again.
      Britain does what ever it wants and if it doesn’t like the rules it ignores them so I don’t see why they stay in other than getting import duty to pat if they get out. Look after their own citozens not the immigrants that get everything with out paying a cent

    • CJ Roger

      01 March 2016 • 11:54

      What utter rubbish.
      Furthermore the UK Government is NOT “totally committed” as you mis-report. Many Cabinet members & ministers profoundly support #Brexit.

    • CJ Roger

      01 March 2016 • 12:02

      There is chaos throughout the Eurozone & EU.

      Remaining shackled to the EU guarantees more of the same for UK.

      UK Govt took away Winter Fuel Allowance, Pension Credit & voting for 15+ year expats & is now grovelling & fear mongering in an attempt to con our support.

      ℅℅℅℅ right off!

    • Brian Eagleson

      01 March 2016 • 18:05

      Hi Annie,
      It’s actually me – not Mike – who wrote the comment.

      Your point about them living here illegally already is fair enough. However, nobody is going to round them up, put them in detention centres, and then deport them right now while the freedom of movement legislation exists. What happens, if and when that legislation evaporates, is anyone’s guess but it’s not something I would like to be gambling with. Maybe they have a different attitude towards the law from mine.

      Latest estimates say up to 700,000 British expats may be living in Spain long term. Nobody can put an accurate figure on that because so many of them are hiding from the officially registered figures. Goodness knows how many on top of that come and go for only part of the year but stay here for more than 3 months at a time. Most of them don’t even bother to register on the Padron for goodness sake.

      The irony of the situation is not lost on me because so many of them are the first to complain about illegal immigrants in the UK! How does that work?

    • Mike in ESP

      01 March 2016 • 18:18

      Well the simple answer is to apply for an N.I.E. number, there is not a lot you can do in Spain without one. You will need an N.I.E. number will make it simpler to do anything related to bank account or property here which a person will need to sort things out if something happens to their partner. Its a simple process although it can take a couple of visits to the National police station standing in a queue.

      If a person spends the maximum days needed or more in one year to be classed as a resident they should have an N.I.E. number, if you have one and you are not spending more than the duration in a year needed to become a resident or taxable item then there is no commitments in having one.

      Someone who has not an N.I.E. number when they don’t need one will not become an illegal immigrant! If people are allowed to visit a country and do not spend longer than the permitted time for their status how would they become an illegal immigrant? If there was a Brexit there is a 2 year period for the UK to get things in order such as make bilateral agreements etc. etc. and even longer if they can get 27 countries to agree if more time is needed, so we would still be a member for at least another 2 years, with a prime minister who is intelligent and interested the UK could negotiate good deals in several areas.

      The issue is no more serious than the person concerned can make it. In all honesty I would be very surprised if there was a Brexit even if one is voted for.

    • Mike in ESP

      01 March 2016 • 18:35

      I would think that things will become clearer over time, there are 4 months before the vote… everything has happened very fast, it has not given the OUT side much time really and there is a lot of work that needs to be done “on both sides” and “hopefully” clear information and facts will be put together by them on BOTH sides rather than tit for tat scaremongering. We need to remember the government is in a major panic at the moment as they are in a corner they didn’t expect to be in and we all know what happens when you corner a frightened cat, it does things it wouldn’t normally do and does them with a vicious intent.
      To be honest it doesn’t help when a government body is restricting access to data and statistics to the OUT MP’s which is just plane daft and does them with their IN campaign no good at all… certainly at the moment anyway. I do get the feeling many people who didn’t really show too much interest are starting to waken up to the fact the EU is not mainly an economic union, it is a political union!

    • Brian Eagleson

      01 March 2016 • 18:52

      Good response Mike, apart from, “Someone who has not an N.I.E. number when they don’t need one will not become an illegal immigrant!” Well, I would have thought that’s obvious. Nobody here has said anyone who DIDN’T need a N.I.E. would become an illegal immigrant. We’re talking about those who DO need a N.I.E. – hundreds of thousands of them!

      Thanks for your contribution though. Very worthwhile and hopefully of some assistance to those who may be affected.

      However your final comment is very puzzling. You say, “In all honesty I would be very surprised if there was a Brexit even if one is voted for.” Are you saying now that the British Government would ignore an ‘out’ vote? Forgive me, but that seems a very strange thing to say. Would you like to explain your thinking behind that statement?

    • Brian Eagleson

      02 March 2016 • 05:13

      Most of the comments about this article are emotional – not rational.  Confused, muddled thinking seems to be prevalent and a desire to leave the EU – no matter what – predominates.

      Well, just because the EU is not perfect is no valid reason to leave it. If we abandoned everything that is not perfect we would never achieve anything. The human race itself is not perfect but we can not leave the human race. So why leave the EU when we can opt to hang on and try to nudge it a little bit closer to that elusive perfection?

      Leaving the EU is akin to jumping off a cliff with your eyes tightly shut. Not something many of us would want to do lightly – although many here seem to want to do just that. How strange.

    • Lenox

      02 March 2016 • 09:26

      There are many Britons in Spain who have ‘residencias’, but the fact is, they don’t. These were taken away from European citizens in about 2008 and we must now theoretically carry (as we know) a passport and a letter from the police (i.e. Ministry of the Interior) saying that we live in Spain as a ‘Ciudadano Comunitario’, a EU citizen. However, if the UK were to pull out of Europe, our status as EU citizens would dissolve, leaving us as being in Spain ‘irregularly’. Would they throw us out? Dunno. Will the UK be throwing out the Spaniards working and studying there? If they do, then it would be a good time to turn everything we have here into cash!

    • Brian Eagleson

      02 March 2016 • 12:38

      You are absolutely correct Mike to say, “the EU is not mainly an economic union, it is a political union!” I would go further and say that the Euro itself is a political invention too. It was created by politicians not financial experts.

      At its birth, many respected economists and financial experts warned of the stresses and strains a single currency would bring to a group of nations with widely differing economies. But the politicians ploughed on regardless and created the Euro. Now all of us using it are quite literally paying for that mistake.

      Fortunately Britain retains the Pound Sterling. It will surely never adopt the crippled Euro now, either in or out. So we have 2 choices again.
      Stay in – and campaign for the Eurozone ministers to see sense over their crippled currency.
      Or leave – and watch helplessly with no influence at all when the next Eurozone crisis threatens the money we use here in Spain. It is only a matter of time.

    • Brian Eagleson

      02 March 2016 • 15:00

      Y’know, there will be no Brits in Europe to fight for us Brits still here in Spain if we leave the EU. No British MEPs, no British Commissioners, in fact no British at all. They’ll ALL be foreigners!
      Even the UKIP MEPs will all be gone – including Nigel Farage!

      You couldn’t make it up.

    • Mike in ESP

      02 March 2016 • 21:04

      Well if someone needs an N.I.E. and hasn’t got one then they should get one shouldn’t they! Why wouldn’t they have one if they actually they needed one for the time they spend here, they wouldn’t be using their status in the EU to defraud on tax would they now!

      The bit you find puzzling ‘will keep short’: DC has shown he is DESPERATE for the UK not to leave the EU, I am sure that Brussels is fairly desperate for the UK to stay in also 😉 It has been shown in the past that the EU will not take a ‘YES to go against the EU’ for an answer if the UK does vote to leave but DC must go with peoples wishes if they vote to leave… or at least we would hope that would be the case 😉 So what happens now? How does DC keep whatever he has been promised by the EU and Brussels get us to stay in? Well one way might be to start the process to leave, then the EU starts to reform on the areas where it is thought the British people voted out on ‘This depends on how the vote went, 53% out 47% in then some small reforms, 60% out and 40% then more in depth reforms’… some time along the way of the UK setting up bilateral or ‘slide over’ agreements the suggestion could come along that the EU has now reformed and it might be a good idea to have another referendum…. it’s a lot more complicated than this but you should get the gist… as Shultz said, nothing is definite and anything can change!

    • Mike in ESP

      02 March 2016 • 22:11

      I don’t see much effort of rounding up the looky looky men on every towns seafront ‘many thousands if not hundreds of thousands along the med coast’ and yet I know of no Spanish or EU ‘Freedom of movement’ agreement with Somalia!

      People should understand that registering on the Padron will mean they only have to pay the 1st instalment of their IBI or vehicle road tax as they will be given grace on payment of the 2nd, that can be a considerable saving ‘around 30%’ on IBI for apartment and 1 car never mind the saving that could be made on not having to pay the 2nd installment for a villa.

      Note that I mention 1st and 2nd instalment, that is how my town hall works although yours might be different but in any case you will find there is a saving by registering on the padron. The reason for that is that central government allows xxx€ funding times people registered on the padron, so town halls entice people who live in their municipality to register so they can get more of that funding.

    • Mike in ESP

      02 March 2016 • 21:16

      Brian, when will people realise the EU WILL NOT REFORM, they have shown they are not interested in listening to anyone. If these people cannot see by now the EURO doesn’t work but continues with it then it has to be obvious they are not interested in changing anything that is wrong or bad because they class it as a fail, so they will make anyone in any country suffer rather than do something to fix something that is very clearly not working, they where warned by top economists it wouldn’t work before hand and still ploughed headlong into it… again we will not get them to reform and are much better out of the whole farce that the EU has become.

      Remember when the UK was told that if the British didn’t take up the EURO as it’s currency we would be be left behind and it would destroy our economy? It is mostly the same people who are scaremongering on the UK leaving the EU.

    • Mike in ESP

      03 March 2016 • 07:50

      Yes but just imagine, we will have British elected MP’s fighting for us in the UK, no foreigners making up our rules or telling us what to do in the UK… we will be governing our own country 100% by ourselves for our interests, our human rights laws, our border control, our taxes being spent on us by us and not dictated by EU. The majority of people running the EU are foreigners anyway and they don’t listen much to British MEP’s except the ones that pat their backs.

      Oh you could make it up, it is called running your own country, a very normal situation for most countries and not an EU which at best is a disorganised mess run by indecisiveness, how the hell can you expect to get 28 people of different nationalities to agree about anything! Wait until you see what happens when they add more countries to it! Although it will not be good for the EU that UK leaves it might be the best thing that happened to other member countries to kick themselves and the EU up the rear, initially a lot of work and for UK but it would be the best thing to happen to Britain for a long time!

      BTW, I see the Swiss have decided not to go forward on their application to become part of the EU, very wise move on their behalf! The Dutch pushing to get a referendum on the Ukraine, Junker trying to scare them on that. Hungary talking about referendum on EU immigrant quotas! Most of the problems in the EU caused by the EU or self promoting politicians within it.

    • Brian Eagleson

      03 March 2016 • 10:04

      Mike your explanation for your statement, “In all honesty I would be very surprised if there was a Brexit even if one is voted for.” is not going to happen.

      The leaders of the two sides may disagree on everything else, but on one thing they agree completely. Out means out! Even Boris has made a U-turn already from his initial remarks. Both campaigns now say absolutely categorically if Britain votes to leave there will be no further negotiations with the aim of staying in. No second referendum. Just the usual wrangling over who gets what from the divorce. All British politicians and staff will eventually quit Brussels and go back home leaving those Brits still in Spain and the other 26 nations fully in the hands of those dam’ foreign politicians so many Brits despise.

    • Katie Lewendon

      03 March 2016 • 13:15

      Many UK ex-pats are concerned about the forthcoming EU referendum and its consequences. One way to make the voice heard is to vote. My family has already registered to vote. It is a quick and easy process and can all be done either online or by post. In case you do not have the information here is the link

    • Mike in ESP

      03 March 2016 • 19:48

      If that is the case if there was a vote to Brexit then I will be very happy as that is exactly the way it should be but the fact that Martin Schulz said that nothing is permanent makes me think that they will wangle their way to keep us in, they enticed Ireland and they where made to have a second referendum on the Lisbon treaty so who know what can happen when you are dealing with this type of people, Don’t get me wrong, the EU will never change enough to keep me happy about staying in but I really cannot see them letting us go that easily if the ppl voted that way… but again as I have said before I would doubt there will be a Brexit ‘one way or another’ anyway.

    • Mike in ESP

      03 March 2016 • 21:51

      Brian, I am not having a go but if everyone thought like you we would all be walking around in a cardboard box scratching our heads… Britain, rather the UK is much better and bigger than people like you ‘and DC’ think, the British people are capable of many things, if ever down then will get back up and keep moving forward, this is reflected in our life, technology and history. If EU countries throw blocks in front of us we will get over them, there is nothing much that cannot be overcome with some thought and talking. No matter what DC and BMW or the French say everything they bring up can be sorted out, I will agree all of it might not be easy but it is achievable and the UK will thrive all the more and be better for it. I know you do not agree but I think it a Brexit ‘if it happens’ will be a lot smoother than most people are making out. As much as I do not like the EU, most of the people who run it or the way it is run, the people of European countries are not hateful people and want to work together, they are not our enemies. Once the initial shock hits things will then become a reality for them and that reality is they need to work with us and keep our business along with our help in trade and other matters… but out of the EU 😉

    • Mike in ESP

      03 March 2016 • 22:00

      QUOTE: leaving us as being in Spain ‘irregularly’. END

      Not if you perform any needed paperwork or application needed in able to be here.

      QUOTE: Would they throw us out? END

      Answer NO.

      QUOTE: Will the UK be throwing out the Spaniards working and studying there? END

      Answer NO

    Comments are closed.