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He was absolutely horrified.” As parents, the Coghills’ biggest doubt about the referendum was whether their children would retain the same legal status in the event of a leave vote.
His big worry is the lack of assurances from the Leave camp about the security of UK pension provisions.What if we weren’t entitled to free health cover any more?” Current EU mechanisms allow for UK citizens to receive reciprocal medical treatment through the NHS by way of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).“I’d say it will be too much hassle after that, too much red tape.” She thought the retirees would still come though, pending any change to pension and healthcare arrangements.“But those changes might take years to implement, and a lot of the older ones might be dead by the time they get everything sorted out.” Down the street at local restaurant Casa Campisano, Spanish owner Jaime Campisano estimated that about 50% of his regulars are British. “And I think it will be catastrophic if people have to leave, for Spain and for the UK too.” To the north, in the busy resort of Benidorm, Jack Troughton edits an English-language newspaper called Round Town News.“It was sorted out in the end, but if expats were looking at those kinds of bills it would be a very different story here.” Like many in their position, the Fawcetts have never formally registered as residents of their host country.
This makes it hard to know exactly how many Britons are now based in Spain – the real number is estimated to be at least three times higher than the official UN figure of 309,000.
Their children, all born in Spain and now aged 9, 10 and 11, took even less, despite being British passport holders. “To them, ‘British’ is an insult.” Robert tells a story about his oldest son and friends getting in trouble for picking on a Moroccan classmate.
“I asked him what it was about, and he said, ‘well, he’s a foreigner’. And he said, ‘no I’m not’, so I showed him his British passport.
Almost as soon as we joined my salary went right up.” For these reasons and others, all four Scots have already cast their votes for “remain”.
Local estate agent Belinda Coghill is not entitled to vote at all.
“The question is whether that would change if they weren’t classed as Europeans any more?