Spanish in UK facing a farce at Consulates


THE Brexit uncertainty has created an additional problem for Spaniards living in the UK, because the country’s only two Consulates are overwhelmed with work, and appointments are nearly impossible to obtain.

Registering as a permanent resident, changing driving licences and other bureaucracy, means getting an appointment for registering a birth or marriage, replacing a passport and registering to vote in the Spanish general elections is difficult,

often given at the last minute and really strict in terms of time.

Spaniards in Britain are complaining about the volume of bureaucracy they cannot do online or by post, which means they have to visit the Consulate during working hours, and, possibly, taking annual leave to do so.

And it also costs them a fortune, since the only Consular offices are in London and Edinburgh, which leaves excessively-long travelling distances for many.

A pressure group in the north-west, the Marea Granate Manchester, is calling for the Consulate in Manchester, which shut down in 2011, to reopen.

Registering to vote in their home general elections is always a headache, they complain, since they have to do so in person at the Consulate. Often, they fail to receive their ballot papers in time, and have no guarantee that their postal vote will arrive.

This is similar to the situation denounced by Brits living in Spain, many of whom did not receive their ballot in time to vote in the Brexit referendum, or in previous UK general elections, where they are still eligible.

Those who have lived outside the UK for 15 years or more, are barred from voting in local or general elections, or in any referendum, which would include a People’s Vote or a second referendum on Brexit.

It’s a situation the Conservative Government pledged to resolve in time for the 2015 UK general elections, but failed to do so.

Annoyed Spaniards in Britain say that while their community, around 200,000, has never ceased to grow, Consular staff numbers remain the same.

And with the extra paperwork they have to deal with before Brexit, Consular employees are needed more than ever.

With the UK Parliament voting against a No-Deal Brexit, and also against Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal, but supporting a three-month extension to Article 50, Spaniards living in the UK are now in a dilemma about what to do about the European Parliamentary elections on 26th May.

Many had assumed they would be unable to vote for British MEPs, since the UK would be out of the Union by then, and registered to vote for Spanish MEPs instead.

But if Britain expects to be granted its three-month extension, which must be approved by the entire, remaining EU-27, it will have to field candidates for the European elections.

Even though Europe’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and other leaders, including Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, have said they would consider an extension to Article 50.

But they will do so, only if the British Government has a clear idea of what it hopes to achieve in that time.

They are against prolonging Brexit uncertainty even further, causing huge losses for businesses on either side of the Channel, as well as stress for residents, and are not willing to renegotiate Theresa May’s existing proposal.

The EU leaders have said that if one particular point on which they could agree to was stopping the deal from being voted through, it would be worth providing an extension, but only until 20th May, in light of the elections.

But it does not seem possible, from the EU’s point of view, for any deal proposal to get through British Parliament, since all parties are divided on whether Brexit should happen at all.

Pro-Brexit MPs want to cut all ties with the EU immediately, deal or no deal, while others want Brexit to be cancelled altogether.

And although Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has finally agreed to back a possible second referendum, this idea has also been rejected in Parliament, and it isn’t popular in the EU, either.

The MPs say that if the result were the same or similar, it would solve nothing, simply leading to more months of member States being in limbo.

A “People’s Vote” march is set to take place tomorrow (Saturday), calling for the public to have a final say on any Brexit deal, including the option to remain in the EU on the ballot paper.



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Posted by on Mar 22 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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