Spaniards who support Brexit
EU migrants living in the UK would have voted “yes” last year.
Not all countries are equal,” says Antonio Javier Saborit López, a Spanish national working in the construction sector in London, and one of a surprising number of Spaniards living in the UK who back Brexit.
At 41, Antonio says he is old enough to remember a time when wages and living standards were better. Large influxes of EU migrants to better-off countries such as the UK are to blame, he says, for worsening them. And despite having made a life in Britain for nearly four years – thanks to the very EU freedom of movement he now opposes – he says he would have voted for Brexit had he held a British passport.
“The change has been terrible,” he says. “Everything has doubled, except wages. On top of that, I think every country should have control over its borders. Freedom of movement has proven to be a disaster.His views are more widespread than one might think. While much has been made of British nationals on the Spanish costas counterintuitively backing Brexit, there also appears to be a small but significant minority of UK-based Spaniards in parallel situations who feel the same way.“I saw Nigel Farage talking about the European Union and, sincerely, I liked what he had to say,” says Ana Belén Vecino, a caterer who lives in London with her husband. “[The pro-Brexit lobby] had a great campaign and fought for their objective.”The 34-year-old Podemos supporter from Madrid believes EU-led austerity measures in many European countries, including Spain, risk “enslaving” future generations. In her opinion, the Brexit vote is a reaction to the EU’s neoliberal economic policies, and was a “slap in the face” for Brussels, while weakening the power of its policymakers.“Here [in Britain] I have seen many people protest against the cuts to the NHS [National Health Service] and about the money they were sending to the EU. And I know people who complained because they had to follow the orders of someone in Brussels.This is the reason I am happy about Brexit, because it has been a slap in the face for the EU. The UK was a heavyweight economic power in the EU and in losing it the EU has lost power.”Ana, who came to the UK three years ago for work, expects Britain and the country of her birth to strike a deal, meaning she and her fellow Spaniards will be able to stay, so she isn’t worried about being forced to leave London come March 2019. Construction worker Antonio agrees. He expects Britain to gain from Brexit and doesn’t believe his circumstances in the UK will materially change because of the close relationship between Spain and his adopted nation. “I think the problem is worse for Eastern European countries,” he says, highlighting the fact that fairly few Brits live in Romania and Bulgaria, while many have made their homes on the Costa del Sol. El Pais.