It has been a gloomy week on the sunlit uplands of sovereign Britain, with recent news doubtless inspiring many of us to ponder leaving the country. But what of those who have already done so?
There are signs that some British expats (because, remember, we only call people migrants when they don’t look like us) may be returning because of Brexit fall-out.
While British citizens legally resident in Spain before January 1 have the right to stay, the ‘snowbirds’ who would normally be leaving Britain around this time of year can no longer see out winter and spring in their sunshine holiday homes because of a three-month limit on tourist stays since we left the EU.
Property expert Robert Barnhardt said: “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.”
The returning Brits will, of course, be older, and therefore more likely to increase the strain on our already beleaguered NHS.
Darren Parmenter, resident in Spain for 32 years and a councillor in San Fulgencio, near Alicante, fears that the reduced flight of snowbirds may be the start of a “vicious circle” that sees the end of the Costa dream for retired Brits.
He said: “For the last 35 years, we’ve had this steady number of people coming out and retiring here, so they come on holidays and then they buy their holiday home where they’re going to come and retire.
Some die, but new people come in.
“But after the first of January, the fact is, it’s not so easy to come to Spain. So our fear is that people wanting to retire here will then slowly start falling. That will affect future people coming to visit because their family and friends aren’t here. So they don’t come and visit these people, then those visitors don’t look to buy a property for their future.”
There is a certain irony that both Barnhardt and Parmenter were talking to the pro-Leave Daily Express, some of whose ageing readers may now be considerably less keen than they once were on the idea of foreigners having to go home to where they came from…