Nothing would really change if the UK left the EU. That was the message earnestly delivered by those seeking to have Britain removed from the EU because, well, it was all a game and they weren’t going to suffer, whatever happened. It was the message aimed particularly at those who had second homes in countries like France, Spain and Portugal, and who wintered where the weather was rather less cold.
Nothing to fear? Yes Sirree: “Despite warnings and fears, Britons living elsewhere in the EU would be largely unaffected if their home country left the union”. And who had brought forth this steaming pile of bullpucky? “Jon Moynihan, Andrew Allum, Matthew Elliott, Luke Johnson, Mark Littlewood, John Mills, Helena Morrissey And Viscount Ridley”.
Do go on: “the EU’s freedom of movement rights would be honoured for all those citizens who reside in other EEA nations prior to any Treaty changes … The UK’s large expatriate retiree community in Spain, France and Italy would also not have to worry. While the Centre for European Reform has claimed that, were Britain to leave, ‘Spain might demand that British retirees on the costas pay for their own healthcare or it may try to limit migrants’ access to healthcare…Their healthcare is costly to the Spanish treasury, which is struggling to balance its books’ this is inaccurate, as the NHS would be responsible for paying the cost of healthcare of pensioners abroad in any case”. Would it really now?
So let’s see what the reality looks like. This from the BBC: “To be able to live in Spain now, you will need to show proof that you're earning, either through having a contract with a Spanish company, or by proving that you have at least £2,000 (€2,223; $2,705) a month coming into your account. For a family, it will be much more. You will need to show that you have an extra £500 a month for each member of the family”.
Healthcare arrangements? The Government recommends registering as a resident and then registering for healthcare as a resident. As for spending the winter in those second homes, well. One retiree told the Beeb “We paid a mortgage for 20 years to have a holiday home and a retirement bolt-hole for the winter. We're limited to just 90 days now”. That’s why the Government recommends registering as a resident.
That same retiree concluded “I don't think anyone expected the rug to be pulled from under them so quickly”. He, and many others, were conned. The Brexit boosters didn’t tell them about the 90 day rule, changes in driving licence validity, or changes to healthcare access - which is an unknown longer term area, as the UK has not yet addressed it.
Remember the names on that Tel article well. They conned you, and they don’t care.