There will be a referendum in the UK this summer - apparently - and while it will affect those two million Britons who live in Europe, only a very few of us will be voting, or able to vote, to influence the outcome. This is of course the consultation over whether Great Britain should leave the EU, the choices being: staying, which is Good for Business, or leaving, which is Good for Nothing.
The 'Stay Vote' is interested in exports and not expats. A good example of the joys of Europe comes from a box of Kleenex tissues. You will find that the contents - paper handkerchiefs - are written in every language where the product is sold. Paper handkerchiefs, mouchoir de papier, pañuelos de papel and so on down to languages so obscure and peculiar, the good people at Kleenex HQ must have a job correcting the syntax. Meanwhile, if an Englishman buys some Kleenex in Bulgaria... well, good for him. End of subject.
The 'Leave Vote' seems concerned about the glories of the past. When Britain, with its two Trident subs, ruled the waves and Johnny Foreigner knew to doff his hat as we passed. In these days of finding those guilty of our falling standards, it's easily provable that the foreigners settling in the UK are to blame, taking our jobs and our womenfolk. That's about it, I think. Did I miss something?
While the debate rages in the British Media (controlled and owned by Moguls who have their main residence in the Cayman Isles), we read that 'Those Britons who have moved to Europe (there are two million of us) have lost any rights to influence British policy'. Oddly, the British are much more generous with the Gibraltarians (30,000 of them) and the Falkland Islanders (2,900 of them) than they are with us expats.
It must be something to do with the land. The British are not to be swayed by questions of applied freedoms. We should remember how Downing Street gave a British Island in the Indian Ocean, Diego García, to the Americans back in 1968 for purely strategic reasons, sending the entire population of 2,000 into a forgotten exile.
What, if anything, will happen to the British expats living in Europe in general - and Spain in particular - if the UK votes to leave the EU?
Short answer - nobody knows; and no one in a position of power either wants to tell us, warn us, discuss it with us, or indeed to worry about such an inconsequentiality. So let us explore the possibilities ourselves.
If the UK were to leave the EU - if 'Brexit' became a reality - then one of the chief demands of the 'outers': the UKIP, the right wing Conservatives and the grist and mill of the Nationalists and Britain First along with assorted closet-racists and elitists, would be to attempt to winnow out the foreigners. Hard, of course, with the Commonwealth citizens, but easier with the Europeans. There are 200,000 Spaniards living and working (but not retiring, never retiring) in the UK, and 500,000 Frenchmen. In all, around two million Europeans are said to be there - including plenty of Poles, Romanians, Estonians, Bulgarians and what not. Any inconvenience handed to them - from withdrawing medical rights, or insisting on work permits, and down to deportation - would immediately be answered by Madrid, Paris and Berlin in similar terms. Events happening in far-off London, or Birmingham or Glasgow, could suddenly be felt in Fuengirola, Marbella, Mojácar, Altea, Jávea and Ibiza.
The expats might find that Madrid would be treating us as they currently treat non-Europeans, or (for those who remember) as we were treated before Britain joined the EU. We could expect the return of visas, convertible accounts and those hard-to-obtain work-permits (we have over 30% unemployment in Andalucía). We would lose all and any voting rights if we stayed in Spain - in European and local elections as we have now (not that the former do us any good - there are twenty million unrepresented Europeans currently living in another European country without a voice in Brussels). We would lose Spanish health privileges and that over-65 bus pass. The demand for property would fall, and property-values in expat towns like Bédar, Benhavís and Benissa would crumble.
If the racists really took over in the UK and deportations became a reality, we could even be subject to the same treatment. Spain, they say, would never throw out the British because it makes too much money from our presence in those small towns in forgotten parts of the coast previously mentioned. Madrid is already inflicting the Modelo 720 on us (a declaration to the tax-authority of our world-wide ownings), declaring some/many of our homes in Andalucía to be 'illegal', supporting the Valencian 'Land Grabs', curtailing our pin-money rental plans and, in general, either ignoring us or treating us without much enthusiasm. We have no voice in Madrid and little anywhere else beyond Mijas and Calpe. Helen and Len Prior, whose home was demolished eight years ago in Vera, Almería, and who have lived ever since amongst the ruins of the villa, are our most famous members.
I don't think that the UK will vote for a 'Brexit', but the possible plight of two million Britons in Europe, and 750,000 in Spain, is certainly not going to influence the vote in any way whatsoever.