‘It’s like a bereavement’: Brits in Spain share their Brexit day heartache

'It's like a bereavement': Brits in Spain share their Brexit day heartache
Photo: Brunel Johnson, Unsplash
Brexit day has finally come, and with it feelings of devastation, betrayal and above all, sadness. British people in Spain have been sharing their feelings about the UK’s departure from the EU and how they will be marking the occasion.

We have known it was coming for three years now, but repeated Brexit delays and chaos within UK politics had allowed some a glimmer of hope that maybe it wouldn't after all.

But now that has been snuffed out and at midnight today (11pm in the UK) the UK will exit the EU and British people will lose their EU citizenship.

We asked some British people living in Spain about their emotions now that the day is here.

Zofia Coulton, who has lived in Spain for the last 11 years said she felt: “Absolutely devastated, scared and angry,” and above all was worried about the loss of freedom of movement and her children’s future.

“Devastated” was the word overwhelmingly used by our readers to explain how they felt as Brexit day approached.

Many respondents said they would not be marking the day by doing anything special but would be avoiding media coverage on Brexit day.


“I feel sick, disgusted and astonished that the English people are so gullible because they are the ones who voted for it. And Johnson,” said Brian McLaughlin, who has been in Spain for 17 years. “On the day itself I’ll be turning off any news reports on TV.”

Claire Lindsey Moss, who has lived in Spain for 16 years admitted that she would probably shed a tear on Brexit Day. “I feel distraught scared and ignored,” she said.

Deborah Fielding who had a holiday home in Spain for 19 years and now lives here permanently said it was the saddest day of her life.

“I feel Hopeless and very, very sad. I can truly say that I feel more sad over Brexit than when my parents died; their deaths were inevitable and for the best while Brexit is the opposite,” she said.

On the day itself, she will be in full mourning ,even though she is on holiday and will be staying at a hotel in Spain.  “I’ll wear a black dress and God help anyone in the hotel who is celebrating!” she said.

Louise Venison, who has been in Spain for 27 years said Brexit day might be cause for setting alight to something,

“Maybe burn a Union Jack?” she said while admitting to feelings of “anger, which I will hold onto for as long as I can because it avoids dealing with other feelings like hopelessness, grief and loss.”

Beverley Burke, a resident in Spain since 2008, also felt like mourning. “I will light a candle remembering what once was,” she said.

Christine Baker said: “I am devastated and distraught. It feels like a bereavement”

She will also avoid TV and newspapers on the day but will “put my EU flag up”.

Deborah Booth, a resident in Spain for ten years said she felt: “Very very sad . Angry that my country of origin has completely lost the plot.”

Lesley Berry said a night of drowning one’s sorrows was in order. “We feel Devastated. There’s so much uncertainty surrounding our health cover still being covered. We worked hard and were able to retire to the sun in the knowledge that health and pensions would be covered until we died, now very unsure and dread the thought that we may well have to return to UK.”


Karen George who divides her time between France and Spain had a special play list for Brexit Day. “ I may play Ode to Joy a lot,” she admitted.  “I feel anxious about my future rights .l.feel embarrassed about my country .l am just really unhappy and embarrassed to mention it.”

Tracy Rolfe had the same idea. Asked how she would be marking January 31 she said: “Perhaps hang out EU flags, light candles and play 'Ode to Joy'.” No celebration here. Nothing to mark this is biggest mistake in recent European history.

Emma Fisher, who has lived in Malaga for ten years said there really was no way of marking the day. “This is biggest mistake in recent European history,” she said.

Nicola Edge, who lives in Barcelona said the Brexit day would be a dark day for her: “I know I will be feeling very depressed, but I will work as normal and probably be very quiet.

“I feel angry and cheated together with a deep sadness, having had no vote I feel stateless and now they've even taken away my European vote,” she added.

But Madeline Ward who has lived in Catalonia for nine years said they would putting out the flags: “EU, Spanish and Catalan flags will  be on display. And then we’ll drink to the end of a really good era.”

For some though, the day itself didn’t mean much.

Thomas Cassidy, who has been living in Spain for 18 years, told The Local: “Strangely, I feel a bit indifferent as I have spent the last three years raging at the stupidity of the UK and the thought that I am being abandoned with no more thought than an injured animal which needs to be put down. I’m now accepting the inevitable.”

  • WATCH: The Local readers across Europe share their feelings about Brexit day. 


Thank you to everyone who took the time to send us your thoughts and feelings, we didn't have room to include them all but it was very powerful to hear so many voices from different parts of Spain. 




Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.