Brexit fury: British expats given days to leave Spain as they are classed as ‘illegal’

Boris Johnson 'needs to step up for British expats' says expert

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British expats are leaving Spain “in droves” as experts highlight a a decrease in the number of Brits in the country. This has come after more stringent immigration rules were brought in due to the UK leaving the EU. As a result of Brexit, UK citizens can only visit Spain without a visa for up to three months for tourism and businesses purposes. Robert Barnhardt, a property expert who runs an estate agency in the seaside town of Fuengirola, explained why many are leaving.

He told “A lot of retired British people are starting to sell up. They used to come down here in September or October and then stay until April/May for the six months of better weather.

“But now they can only come for 90 days and also a lot of them used to drive down. The Spanish are now getting pretty strict on foreign plated cars and mainly British cars.”

He also said that healthcare costs are another factor pushing Britons away from Spain.

Earlier this month, reports told of Britons who have been rejected for residency in Spain – they were given just 15 days to leave the country, and told they risk being classified as illegal.

The Local Spain obtained documents from Spain’s immigration office which outlined the rules for British people.

It reads: “You will be advised that, unless you have a qualifying document to stay in Spain, you must leave the Spanish territory within 15 days from the notification of this resolution, unless exceptional circumstances occur and you justify that you have sufficient means, in which case you may extend your stay up to a maximum of ninety days.

“Once the indicated period has elapsed without the departure being made, the provisions of the Regulation of Organic Law 4/2000, of January 11, will be applied for the cases of being irregularly in the Spanish territory (article 53.1.a of the cited Organic Law 4/2000).”

The Spanish government have warned that overstaying can be considered a “serious offence” by authorities.

Potential punishments include fines ranging from €501 (£429) to €10,000 (£8562), a possible expulsion from Spain as well as a potential ban from the Schengen area for six months to five years.

Anne Hérnandez, the head of citizen help group Brexpats in Spain, told The Local that she has been approached by Britons asking for help due to the rules.

She said: “We don’t have exact figures of how many people are affected but I know of several cases around Málaga.

“Applications are mostly being rejected on the grounds of insufficient evidence of legally residing in Spain in 2020, such as a padrón (town hall registration), medical insurance or other proof people were actually living here before 2021.”

Ms Hernandez added: “It’s scary stuff when you consider that British applicants might have sold up in the UK to buy their dream home here, shipped all their furniture and belongings over and their pets – what do they do?”

There has also been heated debate surrounding Brexit back in the UK.

Petrol shortages and supply chain problems have been blamed on Brexit by many, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed the UK is in a “period of adjustment”.

Reports today also claim that Brexit minister Lord Frost will declare that the “British Renaissance has begun”.

Lord Frost is expected to laud the UK’s trading opportunities in a speech at Conservative Party conference this week.

As The Independent reports, Lord Frost is expected to say: “All history, all experience, shows that democratic countries with free economies, which let people keep more of the money they have earned, make their own decisions, and manage their own lives, are not just richer but also happier and more admired by others.

“That is where we need to take this country. The opportunities are huge. The long bad dream of our EU membership is over. The British renaissance has begun.”

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He will also reiterate a warning that the Northern Ireland Protocol he negotiated risks undermining the Good Friday Agreement and that the threshold for triggering Article 16 to effectively tear up parts of the deal has been met.

Media abroad is seeing Brexit Britain very differently, however.

Amid the fuel crisis and ongoing tension between Brussels and London, a leading German news show has criticised the UK.

Gabi Kostorz on ARD’s Tagesthemen, said: “One is tempted to tell the British: ‘You have only yourselves to blame’.

“We tried to talk you out of it, but you decided otherwise. Now you have to face the consequences.”

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