Brexit: British expat discusses difficulty of living in Spain

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Mark Sampson has lived in Spain since 1982 and says that unlike “95 percent of Spain’s British diaspora”, he has assimilated into Spanish culture. This has included learning the language fluently, mixing with locals and crucially paying tax.

Much of this is lost on the vast majority of expats, thousands of whom don’t speak a word of Spanish despite living in the country for decades, he said.

Mr Sampson says he has no regrets about opting to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

But this can’t be said for many of the expats who are now suffering since Brexit was realised last January because they are “unable to get away with not paying tax, learning Spanish and staying indefinitely”.

He told “The Spanish Government has always thought the vast majority of Brits were idiots but they needed the money so they turned a blind eye.

“There are so many Brits and Irish out here that always try to go under the radar.

“They don’t pay taxes and treat these wonderful people and their culture with contempt.

“The English just take take take and give nothing back.

“We really need to respect that we live in another country.

“Over the last 20 years or so since the open borders of Europe people have been able to come here as if they were going down the street from England.

“And I think many of them have not treated moving countries with the same respect as they would have done if they had moved to say America or Africa or Australia or whatever.

“They treated it as if ‘well I’m just getting a plane and hopping off and I now live in Spain’.

“Whereas now they are having to treat it the same as they would do in any other country in the world that wasn’t part of Europe.”

When asked about how many Brexit-voting expats were faring, Mr Samson replied: “Quite a few of them are thinking more about how it’s affecting them on a daily basis.

“Which has been quite hard. It’s not a great thing.

“The way it’s been managed and turned around is making life quite difficult for expats and I think a lot of those are regretting it.

“To the point where most of the friends that I know voted to leave because I was with them on June 23, 2016 and were jumping up and down that they won (the referendum) are now saying ‘no, no, I voted to Remain, I voted to stay’.

“And (there are) very, very few who actually voted to leave (and) are now admitting it.

“They are embarrassed by the way it has been handled.

“They couldn’t have anticipated how badly it has affected them.

“Some of that is pure ignorance – they didn’t realise that living in a foreign country without this passage (freedom of movement) was going to be slightly more difficult.

“You have to fill out forms to do things as any other foreigner would.

“But some of it is I think just out of bad management of the Spanish and English Governments who haven’t made it so easy for people to move and work in Spain as maybe the English have made it for the Spanish to live and work in England.

“And there’s a bit of resentment maybe and they are looking slightly more foolish than they hoped.

“And I’m amongst them – I could never have anticipated it would have been this hard and the Government would have been so incompetent but they have been.”

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