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BREXIT

OPINION: Unlike EU citizens in the UK, Brits in Spain are lucky enough to enjoy the warmth of our hosts

Sue Wilson from Bremain in Spain gave a speech to a sell-out audience in Barcelona on the issues of Brexit, the warm welcome from Spain and stereotypes that still tarnish the perception of Brits in the country. Here she explains what part of her message got the biggest cheers.

OPINION: Unlike EU citizens in the UK, Brits in Spain are lucky enough to enjoy the warmth of our hosts
Photo: Sue Wilson/Bremain in Spain
On Thursday 3 October, a crowd of European citizens, mostly British and Spanish, attended the sell-out event, ‘Europeans in Catalonia’ at the Princess Hotel, Barcelona.
 
The four speakers discussed issues relating to Brexit – especially the human cost, which is frequently overlooked in the Brexit debate, in favour of trade and the economy.
 
A question and answer session followed, with many audience members participating, including EU Supergirl, Madeleina Kay, who was visiting Spain as part of her European tour.
 
The first speaker was Hedwig Hegtermans of the 3Million campaign group, speaking on behalf of European citizens in the UK.
 
Hedwig talked about the injustices of the Settled Status scheme and how Brexit has changed the way the UK feels about and treats European immigrants.
 
Next in the line-up was Elena Remigi, founder of the In Limbo Project, and Debbie Williams, chair of Brexpats – Hear our Voice. They highlighted the impact of Brexit on citizens in the UK and EU and read some moving testimonials from the In Limbo books, which have now been presented to over 1,500 politicians.
 
The books have helped many UK and EU politicians understand that their respective citizens are upset, angry and unnerved at the prospect of Brexit, and the loss of their rights.
 
Sue Wilson speaks at the event in Barcelona.
 
In my speech about Brits in Spain, I described the stereotypes we constantly see in the press: i.e. that we’re all pensioners, living on the coast, lazing on the beach, speaking only English and spending our time playing bowls or bridge, when we’re not sitting in bars festooned with Union Jack flags.
 
I think I might have mentioned something about drinking gin too!
 
I described how we feel about our reception in Spain: how we appreciate the Spanish government’s efforts to protect us and the treatment we receive from the Spanish people.
 
We have many issues in common with EU citizens in the UK but, fortunately, we don’t have to deal with the daily intolerance and xenophobia that they sadly experience.
 
We are lucky enough to enjoy the warmth, welcome and generosity of our Spanish family, friends and neighbours.
 
My “thank you” to the Spanish people received a big cheer from the audience. I concluded with a round-up of the current state of play. With events happening so quickly, and being so unpredictable, it’s difficult to be certain of anything, but I did make a few predictions.
 
Firstly, we’re not leaving the EU on October 31.
 
Any chance of a deal based on what Boris Johnson has proposed to Brussels seems unlikely. If nothing is agreed by 19 October, law dictates that Boris must ask the EU for an extension.
 
It’s likely that this will be agreed by the EU and may be longer than the UK anticipates.
 
If Johnson doesn’t abide by the law, he would face unknown consequences. The EU has already said that someone other than Johnson can sign the letter, should that prove necessary.
 
Secondly, a further referendum is far more likely now than it has been for months.
 
Increasingly, it looks like the best way out of the Brexit chaos, and it would certainly be the most democratic route.
 
The people made the decision that started this ball rolling, and they should make the decision about how it ends.
 
Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach of Ireland, said the British public would vote remain now, if given the chance.
 
I agree with him.
 
Finally, I’ve always believed that the longer we delay Brexit, the less likely it is to happen at all.
 
Brexit is not inevitable – it can be stopped, it must be stopped, and it will be stopped.
 
That comment received the biggest cheer of the evening ….. well, except, perhaps, for “see me in the bar afterwards”!

By Sue Wilson – Chair of Bremain in Spain

Bremain in Spain, Brexpats-Hear Our Voice, In Limbo and The 3 Million would like to thank Mamen Candela and Amy Holden of Europeans in Catalonia for organising the event and for inviting us to speak.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

If you're travelling between Spain and the UK this summer and want to take some of your favourite treats with you, here's what you should know about the food and drink rules post-Brexit so you don't get caught out by customs.

Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

Flying to the UK from Spain

For those flying to the UK from Spain, the rules are relatively lax.

Note, if you’re spending the summer in Northern Ireland there are different rules on food and animal products. Find them here. 

You can bring the following products from Spain into the UK without worrying about any restrictions:

  • bread, but not sandwiches filled with meat or dairy products
  • cakes without fresh cream
  • biscuits
  • chocolate and confectionery, but not those made with unprocessed dairy ingredients
  • pasta and noodles, but not if mixed or filled with meat or meat products
  • packaged soup, stocks and flavourings
  • processed and packaged plant products, such as packaged salads and frozen plant material
  • food supplements containing small amounts of an animal product, such as fish oil capsules

Meat, dairy, fish and animal products

If, like many of us, you have friends and family already putting in their orders for stocks of jamón serrano, know that the rules on bringing meat, dairy, fish and other animal products into the UK are relatively relaxed. You can bring in meat, fish, dairy and other animal products as long as they’re from the EU, so your jamón and Manchego cheese are safe. 

what food can and cannot bring between spain and the uk

You will still be able to bring cured Spanish ham from Spain to the UK. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
 

Alcohol allowance

For many, the big one, but there are some limits on how much booze you can bring in from Spain and the EU more generally. How much you can bring depends on the type of alcohol, so get up to speed on the limits and make sure your favourite Rioja and Cava aren’t taken off you or heavily taxed:

Limits:

  • beer – 42 litres
  • still wine – 18 litres
  • spirits and other liquors over 22 percent alcohol – 4 litres
  • sparkling wine, fortified wine (port, sherry etc) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent alcohol (not including beer or still wine) – 9 litres

It’s worth knowing that you can split your allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

Flying into Spain from the UK

While British borders are laid back when it comes to travelling with food and drink, the rules are much tougher when entering the EU from the UK.

Most importantly, tea bags – longed for by Brits the world over – are allowed. Marmite, which is vegan, is also fine to bring but Bovril, which contains beef stock, is not.

Travellers arriving in the EU from Britain can, according to the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC), bring the following quantities of alcohol, so if you fancy a British tipple in Spain over the summer such as Pimm’s it is possible, within reason: 4 litres of still wine and 16 litres of beer, 1 litre of spirits, or 2 litres of sparkling or fortified wine.

If you arrive in the EU from a non-EU country, you cannot bring any meat or dairy products with you. That means no Wensleydale, no Cornish Brie in your ploughman’s lunch and no British bacon to enjoy in Spain for English breakfast fry-ups.

Ploughman's lunch

British cheese for your Ploughman’s lunch is not allowed. Photo: Glammmur / WikiCommons

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products technically come under these rules, so even your custard powder to make rhubarb fool or bars of your favourite chocolate are now banned, because of the milk.

Be aware, however Spanish customs do not always check your suitcase, so you may be able to get away with bringing in a small packaged item such as a chocolate bar, without it being confiscated. 

Similarly, if you’re planning on asking a friend or family member to bring you over some sweets, cakes, or other home comforts, be aware that the ban includes all products that contain any meat or dairy as an ingredient – which includes items like chocolate, fudge, and some sweets (because of the gelatine.)

You are allowed to bring a small quantity of fruit and vegetables as well as eggs, some egg products, and honey. Restricted quantities of fish or fish products are also allowed: eviscerated fresh fish products (gutted, with all the organs removed), and processed fishery products are allowed up to 20 kg or 1 fish, so you can enjoy some Scottish smoked salmon in Spain over the summer if you want.

If you’re travelling with kids, note that powdered infant milk, infant food and specifically required medical foods are allowed up to 2kg, as is the case for pet foods. 

Clotted cream for cream teas won’t be allowed to be brought into Spain. Photo: Tuxraider reloaded / WikiCommons

This means that even the classic British summertime favourites such as sausage rolls, scotch eggs, packaged trifle and clotted cream for your cream tea will not be allowed because of the meat and dairy they contain.

It is worth noting that these strict EU rules also apply to sending products by post, so if you were hoping to get around the newly applicable legislation by having someone send you a delivery some Devon fudge, they will probably be intercepted and confiscated by Spain’s postal service, unfortunately. 

READ ALSO: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?

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