British expats in Spain worried over the uncertainty of Brexit
Updated 19:51, 17-Jan-2019
By Alan B. Goodman
At the Twilight Bar in San Fulgencio, Spain, the British expats watching the televised British Parliament vote on Brexit suddenly went quiet as the crucial result was announced: a 432 to 202 vote defeating Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiated withdrawal plan for Britain from the European Union. 
No one, not in London and not among the British expats in the bar, had predicted such a resounding rejection of the withdrawal plan. But the expats in the bar, some in favor of Brexit and others opposed, soon found a few points of convergence. 
Jeff Wiszniewski, a retired policeman from Glasgow, who wants Britain to remain in the EU, said moments after the vote, “I'm a little bit relieved in the respect that I think we now get more clarity on what is likely to happen, whether that's a Brexit or whether that's a no Brexit.” He watched the proceedings at the same table as Peter Horsfield, a retired electronics engineer who favors Brexit. 
In June 2016, just before the referendum when Britons voted to leave the EU, Horsfield had told me, “What can go wrong?” Now I asked him if the exit plan, the mechanics of how Britain is due to leave the EU, was going as he had hoped. He quickly answered no, and blamed Prime Minister May. “All she's come out with is a bad deal. If we had voted for her deal (which Parliament rejected), we will be stuck in the EU for a hundred years,” Horsfield said, citing clauses in May's withdrawal plan, negotiated with EU officials, which Horsfield, and others, feared would have continued to tie Britain to the EU. It was not the clean break he wanted. 
British expats in San Fulgencio watch the British Parliament Brexit vote. /CGTN photo

British expats in San Fulgencio watch the British Parliament Brexit vote. /CGTN photo

Spain has Europe's largest community of British expats, some 300,000. The older retired expats tend to live along Spain's coasts, where temperatures are mild even in the winter, while many younger expats, professionals who are raising families, live in Madrid or Barcelona. A common denominator for all has been anxiety over Brexit.
Some 3,000 British expats live in San Fulgencio, on the eastern Mediterranean coast in Alicante province, and they comprise about 40 percent of the local population. Wiszniewski even served a term as an elected town councilor. He and Horsfield agreed, after seeing the results of the parliamentary defeat for May's plan, that the European Union should extend the deadline for when Britain is to leave. 
Right now, it's scheduled for just 10 weeks from now, at the end of March. The two men, on opposite sides of the Brexit issue, also concur in their belief that even if there's a “hard” Brexit, with no negotiated deal and just a British exit, that continued health care coverage and travel with few restrictions between Spain and Britain is possible after Brexit, given statements by leaders of the two countries. They also concur that uncertainty about what's going to happen with Brexit is still a dominant force. 
The Spanish prime minister's office issued a statement saying it “regrets the negative result of the vote in British Parliament. Spain hopes that, in spite of the vote, that the British Parliament in the end will approve the text (of the withdrawal plan) that has been negotiated for a year and a half, and has the backing of the British government. The agreement is the best possible option.” But the British Parliament didn't think so.
And now the British expats in San Fulgencio and across Spain and Europe must wait to see how, or if, the Brexit situation, can be resolved between Britain and the European Union.
(Cover: British expats Peter Horsfield (L), Jeff Wiszniewski and his wife, in San Fulgencio. /CGTN photo)