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Brits in Spain fear post-Brexit backlash and want their voices heard

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Brits in Spain fear post-Brexit backlash and want their voices heard
Photo: Gemma Middleton / Change.org
17:24 CET+01:00
British people who have made Spain their home are fearful that they will suffer a post-Brexit backlash over the UK government’s treatment of foreigners , and are anxious to make their voice heard.

As details emerged of an EU report that assesses the future status of 1.2 million Britons residing in EU countries, hundreds of Brits living in Spain signed an open letter to the citizens of Spain and its government calling for understanding.

"We adore Spain, love living in our adopted country and feel blessed to be here, " wrote Gemma Middleton, a documentary film maker living in Valencia who started the petition on Change.org.

She felt it was important that Spain heard the voice of those Brits who did not vote to leave the EU and want to remain in Spain as members of their adoptive country.

"We all want to remain living here in Spain and we will work side by side with you to make sure that we can continue to do so."

The letter was published on Change.org just hours before an EU study warned that Brits would likely face difficulty remaining in their adopted countries post-Brexit, according to a leaked EU document seen by British newspaper The Guardian.

The leaked paper said that the future status of Brits in the EU will be a matter for each individual member state after the UK leaves the union in 2019 and that as the UK makes it hard for foreigners to gain residency Brits may suffer reciprocity.

"The fact that it appears to be particularly difficult for foreign nationals, even if married to UK nationals or born in the UK, to acquire permanent residence status or British nationality may colour member states' approach to this matter," the document says. 

Middleton, who has become an outspoken campaigner for Bremain in Spain, said it was very important in light of the leaked EU document, that Brits in Spain spoke up.

"We all feel very blessed to be part of a tolerant country that has welcomed us all," states the open letter.

"We ask that you believe in us, do not judge us, but treat us as individuals who have embraced the Spanish culture, way of life and people," the letter continues in both English and Spanish.

"We work, we live and we have educated our children into the Spanish way of life, and the retirees have adopted Spain as their main primary residence due to the democratic, non- xenophobic and easy going lifestyle that the Spanish people have so kindly offered them."

It adds: "We are ashamed of the treatment Spanish nationals are receiving in the UK."

"Please hear us as individuals and take no notice of the biased views of the UK government. Theresa May is not representing us all."

The petition has already garnered over 500 signatures in 24 hours.

Mark Summers explained why he signed the open letter.

"I call upon Spain to allow myself and my fellow ex-pat British nationals to continue to live our lives as free European Citizens, to go about our days without any undue pressure from the UK government nor from xenophobic Britons that do not represent myself nor my friends living outside the UK," he wrote.

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