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BREXIT: Spain to expel unregistered Briton with criminal record

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
BREXIT: Spain to expel unregistered Briton with criminal record
The courts approved the Briton's expulsion in part because he no longer enjoyed EU rights after Brexit. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

A Spanish judge has approved the expulsion of a UK citizen with a criminal record who had not registered as a resident in Tenerife, despite claiming he had lived there since 2011.

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A judge of the Canary Islands High Court has given the green light to the expulsion of a UK citizen who was living in the south of Tenerife, with his criminal record, new residency rules for Brits post-Brexit and his failure to register as a resident all contributing to the verdict.

The decision to expel the British national was taken in Tenerife's capital Santa Cruz following his arrest by local police in Arona in the south of the island.

While at the police station, officers discovered that the man was already wanted in court in Britain.

The man stated that he had first moved to Spain in 2011 when the United Kingdom was still a member of the European Union, and that therefore he should be treated as an EU national because when initial court proceedings against him began he still had that EU status, referencing a case in the Basque Country where a judge had ruled in favour of a UK national in a similar situation. 

In addition, the detainee - who according to Spanish news agency EFE is already the subject of police investigations in the UK - had an outstanding criminal record for offences including assault and battery, trespassing and damage, threats and attacks on authorities, something for which he had already been convicted on two occasions.

The courts approved the expulsion notice because in order for migration authorities to allow non-EU nationals to reside in Spain, they must have a clean criminal record for offences that are included in the Spanish criminal code, among other requirements.

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EU nationals enjoy freedom of movement within the bloc and although it is possible for Spanish authorities to limit their entrance and residency in Spain due to reasons of "public order, public safety or public health", expulsion or deportation are far less likely to happen than with third-country nationals. 

The British man had not taken steps to register as a resident before Brexit came into force in 2021 and therefore did not enjoy Withdrawal Agreement rights, better than those for Britons applying after Brexit. He maintained this "irregular" status once he became a non-EU national by not applying for Spanish residency.

The Briton also claimed that he had a monthly income of €1,000 as a partner in a sustainable energy company, a claim he was unable to corroborate with any kind of documentary evidence.

He registered a friend's restaurant in Costa Adeje as his home address, although police records also showed another address in Arona.

He hadn't taken any steps to try to formalise his work situation in the Canary Islands either. Despite being listed as a self-employed worker, he did not have a permit to carry out any work activity in Spain.

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Post-Brexit deportations

Data published recently by the EU statistical office Eurostat reveals that about 2,250 UK citizens were ordered to leave EU countries between 2020 and September 2022 - with around half of this number from Sweden alone.

READ ALSO: Post-Brexit residence status: Sweden rejects more Brits than any other EU country

Spain, on the other hand, seems more relaxed about Britons staying on after Brexit.

In fact, the expulsion of this British man from the Canary Islands is something of a novelty in post-Brexit Spain.

As of the start of January 2023, Spain, which hosts the biggest British community in the EU, had not ordered any UK national to leave the country since Brexit, and nor has Italy - at least according to the Eurostat data.

In September 2021, The Local Spain had access to legal documents from Spain’s Immigration Office in which some Britons who applied for residency under the Withdrawal Agreement were given 15 days to leave the country after their application has been rejected.

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