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BREXIT

Spain calls for investigation into racist attacks on Spaniards in UK

Spain has called on British authorities to launch an investigation into the growing number of “racist attacks” carried out against Spaniards in the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Spain calls for investigation into racist attacks on Spaniards in UK
Tomás Gil from Valencia was attacked by a racist thug for speaking Spanish.

The request follows concerns raised by Podemos in Spain’s parliament about the perceived rise in attacks and verbal abuse experienced by Spaniards in the UK, reported Europa Press.

Reports suggests that since the referendum last June – when Britain voted to leave the EU – xenophobic attacks on those appearing to be from abroad, or speaking foreign languages, has grown.

One such attack involved Tomás Gil, a 27-year-old from Valencia who was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

The pair were standing together on the street in the Dorset town on the southern coast of England when Daniel Way overheard them speak in their native language, ripped a plank of wood off a building and smashed it into the Spaniard's face shouting:  “F***ing Spanish, Speak English”.

READ MORE: Man attacked by racist thug in UK for speaking Spanish

The incident was caught on CCTV and was widely reported, making headlines in both the UK and Spain and resulting in the prosecution of their attacker.

In light of such attacks, Podemos tabled a parliamentary question to the government asking for information on the number of xenophobic attacks reported by Spaniards in the UK and “what measures are being taken to protect them”.

Spain's government replied that: “We have sent details of specific cases of which we are aware to the UK’s Foreign Office and Home Office and have requested an investigation”.

Spain’s Embassy in London has a statement on its website for those Spaniards who suffer aggressive incidents or attacks.

“The Spanish Embassy in London and its consulates in London and Edinburgh have been aware of various incidents and attacks that have affected Spanish citizens residing or passing through the United Kingdom,” reads the statement. 

“For this reason, it is advisable to report to the British police and to inform the Embassy and Consulates of any incident or aggression, so that it is possible to give the necessary attention to the victims and their families and to carry out the appropriate follow-up with the British authorities.”

A surge in the number of racially motivated hate crimes was reported in the aftermath of the referendum on June 23rd when a majority voted for Britain to leave the EU.

Nearly 5,500 racially or religiously motivated offences were reported to police in the month after the vote, according to Home Office figures, including assaults, verbal abuse and xenophobic graffiti.

Others have reported a significant rise in hate speech since the vote and the triggering of Article 50 in March.

 “What we have noticed, using our various bits of software, is there has been an increase in hate speech around this event,” said Matthew Williams, co-director of the Social Data Science Lab at Cardiff University.

“It is worrying. We’ve entered into what I’d say is a new darker phase when it comes to relations with minority individuals in the UK, whatever minority they may be.”

Spain’s embassy in London estimates that around 200,000 Spaniards reside in the UK while VisitBritain.org recorded that some 2.2 million visitors to the UK hailed from Spain in 2015.

READ ALSO: All the latest Brexit-related news from Spain

For members

BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

READ MORE: 

Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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