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Brexit Secretary seeks to reassure Brits in Spain on visit to Madrid

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Brexit Secretary seeks to reassure Brits in Spain on visit to Madrid
Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) Stephen Barclay (C) arrives to meet Spanish foreign minister at the Palacio de Viana in Madrid. Photo: AFP
14:41 CEST+02:00
Steven Barclay, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU spent the day in Madrid on Thursday meeting Spanish government representatives to discuss Brexit strategy as well as hearing concerns from groups representing UK nationals in Spain.

Accompanied by Hugh Elliot, the new British Ambassador to Madrid, Barclay held a meeting with representatives from Brexpats in Spain, ECREU and EuroCitizens to discuss the key issues affecting the more than 300,000 British citizens who have made Spain their home. 

During his visit to Madrid, the Secretary of State also spoke at an “Informative Breakfast” hosted by Spanish news agency Europa Press and met with business representatives.  He also discussed the importance of citizens’ rights during his meeting with the Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell.

In a video message to UK Nationals living in Spain, Steve Barclay said: “It’s been really useful to meet citizens’ rights groups representing British nationals living in Spain to hear about their concerns on things like healthcare. We are absolutely committed to protecting healthcare – we are in discussions with the Spanish government on that. Through the Royal Decree, the Spanish Government has given good support to citizens here, compared to other member states.”

He added that: “We are committed to getting a deal – that is the best way to safeguard citizens’ rights. And we will ensure that we continue to support them as we go through the Brexit process.”

A new campaign by the FCO aims to ensure Brits are prepared for Brexit by having all their paperwork in order. 

They have consistently urged Brits to make sure they are properly registered as a resident in Spain, that they have registered for healthcare and exchanged their British driving licences for Spanish one. They are also recommending that passports are checked for validity.

A series of pop-up clinic are taking place across the Costas in the run up to the October 31st deadline. 

Earlier on Thursday at a breakfast meeting, Barclay had reminded Spain of the importance of thrashing out a Brexit deal, warning that failure to have an withdrawal agreement would lead to direct competition on protected Spanish produce from UK dealers as well as its fishing industry.

"Spanish sherry, manchego cheese, cava, which will lose their protection in the event of no deal, and indeed face competition from any changes to UK procurement rules," Mr Barclay warned.

"And a No Deal exit would bring changes of course to fishing as the UK becomes an independent coastal state, on which areas like Vigo would no doubt have an interest."

A statement issued by the Spanish government after the bilateral meeting between Barclay and Borrell also emphasised the need for cooperation. 

"Both ministers agreed on the need to continue working together as is being done to minimize possible negative impacts of Brexit on citizens and the economic sector," it said. 

Spain has already brought into law a set of contigency plans if the UK crashes out of the EU without negotiating a deal. 

Meanwhile British residents in Spain are encouraged by the FCO to sign up to the Living in Spain guide on gov.uk and by joining the Brits in Spain Facebook community.

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