We wonder, maybe, how things are getting along in the UK following the acrimonious divorce known as ‘Brexit’ – a split which left the departing defendant, his head held high, with little more than a caravan, an overseas bank-account he neglected to mention to the court, a hefty lawyers’ bill, and the cat.
The reason given was that we Brits were concerned about the unelected people running the European Union – the second or third largest political and economic power in the world – as if we in the UK choose our own civil servants, or practice some form of proportional representation (rather than first-past-the-post).
A country where the current prime minister is eternally on holiday and the next one will be chosen by a handful of right-wing politicians who still evidently believe in the Raj.
The French at least have eleven deputies (members of parliament we call them) who represent solely those French people who live abroad. Imagine – eleven MPs exclusively speaking for the interests of the French diaspora overseas. But wait: in the UK, they want – finally, long after the Brexit boat has sailed – to allow us expats to vote for our ‘local’ MP according to his views on the price of sugar-beet. Not a dedicated representative and spokesperson for our interests, but the one chosen from our last place of residence.
That should water us down.
There are around a million three hundred thousand Brits living in the EU, without voice, presence, reputation or prominence. That’s around the same number as the entire population of Estonia or Cyprus. Or Glasgow.
Shouldn’t we have our own police force?
Here in Spain, we Brits slid quietly from second class Europeans to third class residents. We have a special card called the Foreign Devil’s Card (also known as the TIE) and we must queue in the non-European line. We can no longer have a British bank account and we must accept that we can’t get parcels from the UK as we used to. As to whether we will be able to continue to vote in local elections (that’s to say, in the municipality where we are now settled), that’s still open to doubt: until the Interior Ministry says otherwise.
It could have been worse. Imagine that Brussels righteously decided that we should all have been shipped back to what would have essentially been some camp erected (by Polish labour) on Salisbury Plain.
Pork-pies and Gentleman’s Relish are no longer easy to find in the stores here, although we can still watch British television, eat fish and chips at Dave’s and find an unread (and unreadable) pile of trashy free English-language newspapers dumped outside. The front-page leader with something about the local dog home.
The Spaniards wonder how we made such a mess of the whole thing. Even the Catalonians, keen to depart Spain for pastures unknown, have now changed their minds after seeing how Brexit has affected the UK.
Referendums aren’t a very good idea anyway. A popular vote supposes that there will be another one coming along in four years’ time; whereas, a referendum is a one-off. You can’t vote the Brexit a second time say the winners of the plebiscite. Although, given the chance, they would probably vote in a referendum in favour of hanging as well.
Things haven’t gone well, and the British politicians (and the media) will blame the coronavirus, the irascible Europeans anxious to put a spoke in the gilded British wheel, global warming, partisan attacks from ‘the Remoaners’, the war in the Ukraine, Northern Ireland or – best of all – the pesky French.
Who apparently hate us.
Or have forgotten us entirely. One of the two.
The British left the EU, not because of those unelected foreign bureaucrats, or the lies on the side of Boris’ bus, or the propaganda from the Daily Express and other media owned by non-tax paying billionaires; but by the simple fact that, following from the implicit belief that we British are better than everyone else – if Britain couldn’t run the European Union (for better or worse), then it didn’t want to be a part of it.
Most Europeans, not to put too fine a point on it, think we have gone nuts. Britain is suffering from shortages (of trained workers, farm produce, foreign sales and promotion) along with extra paperwork and bureaucratic blockages, while we TIE holders living in the blithely unconcerned remains of the European Union are now in the odd position of being better-off than our Island brethren.
At least we can stay here for longer than ninety days. (Blog version here)
El Confidencial here: ‘The British economy is drowning and there is no life jacket that can help it’.
elDiario.es here: ‘10 practical effects that show how disastrous Brexit has been for the UK’.
The Guardian here: ‘As a Brit abroad post-Brexit, I wanted to wear a badge saying: ‘Don’t look at me – I didn’t vote for this!’
The Express here: ‘Spain ‘not worth the hassle’ blasts TV host as Britons fume at post-Brexit travel rules’.
La Vanguardia brings us the ten most expensive streets in Spain to buy a house on. The top one is Coto Zagaleta in Benahavís, Málaga, with homes at around ten million a pop.
From The Wall Street Journal here, ‘Are You a Digital Nomad? European Locales Want Remote Workers’. The article begins ‘Scores of remote workers flocked to foreign cities and villages during the pandemic. Spain, Italy and other European destinations are courting them to stay longer with special visas, tax breaks and more. … Some European cities and villages have also started their own remote-worker campaigns as a way to boost their economies and sustain local service jobs. In Spain, for instance, a group called the National Network of Welcoming Villages for Remote Workers helps such workers settle in villages with 5,000 or fewer inhabitants. Its website lets users search participating villages for information on accommodation, Wi-Fi connection speeds and local attractions…’
‘The Summer of 2022 for the travel sector has become one of strike action, industrial disputes and flight cancellations and delays across Europe. In Spain, the walkouts have been very largely concentrated between the leading budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet. With Ryanair cabin crew based in Spain striking from Monday to Thursday until January 2023, and EasyJet pilots at Spanish bases striking during weekends in August…’ Now it looks like Iberia Express cabin crew could be ready to strike (depending on a meeting with the company) from this weekend until September 6th… From The Olive Press here.
A subject which continues to bubble up: ‘Hell in paradise: the most shocking images of the tourist overcrowding in Mallorca’ featuring a series of alarming Twitter images presented by Diario de Mallorca here.
From Sur in English here: ‘Costa del Sol councils demand more funding to meet extra 'floating population' costs in summer. The resident population of over one million increases exponentially during the peak holiday months. This means authorities of coastal tourist resorts have to spend a great deal more on services’.
Foreign problems in Lisbon. The LA Times brings us an interesting article: ‘Welcome to Portugal, the new expat haven. Californians, please go home’.
Tourists, say 20Minutos, are booking later and spending shorter holidays this year. The tourist industry is concerned, says the article, for the autumn season…
‘The mayors of Malaga and Seville are both in favour of a tourist tax in their cities’, says Sur in English here. ‘Francisco de la Torre and Antonio Muñoz say it would contribute to the cost of the public services they provide and promotional campaigns’. From EuroNews here: ‘We’ve travelled too cheap for too long: Are tourism taxes a good idea?’
From Tuesday’s Sur in English here: ‘Electricity in Spain reaches highest price since the gas price cap came into force’. It says ‘…measures which have been implemented to offset the rising prices include a reduction of IVA on electricity bills from 21% to 10% and then 5%, a reduction in the Special Tax on Electricity and the suspension of the tax on energy production. The number of people eligible for grants has been increased and an energy saving plan was introduced two weeks ago which has reduced consumption in the country by 9.5% so far…’.
‘Inflation is increasing and money doesn’t go far, so what will happen to Spanish pensions next year? The government has said it expects them to rise by around 8% in 2023 and has reassured pensioners that they will not lose purchasing power’. Headline at Sur in English.
The members of the Spanish Parliament return to a new season in Las Cortes today, Thursday 25th August, beginning with a debate on the approval of three Government decrees, including the one on energy-savings.
Juan Marín was the Ciudadanos leader in Andalucía, vice-president, and councillor in the Junta for tourism. He appears to have done a good job in that latter position, but now he must make a choice. His party is no longer represented in the regional government (here) and he now considers a job within the Junta de Andalucía as an advisor of some description – or perhaps to join ‘the private sector’. His decision will be known in September.
Another senior member of Ciudadanos, Ignacio Aguado (Wiki), has announced that he is quitting the party.
Corruption? Neither the PP nor the PSOE is free of it, says El Huff Post here.
What to do about unblocking the CGPJ, the ultimate judicial authority? The Objective says that the previous leader of the PP had agreed to allow the situation to be resolved (the PP has so far stalled for three years on the subject) with ‘Pablo Casado gave Feijóo's 'number two' the judicial pact... but now she denies it. The previous leadership of the PP says that in March it gave Cuca Gamarra, who was then the party general coordinator, the documents for the negotiation with the PSOE’.
(One from August 18th): ‘Electricity already costs four times more in Germany and France than it does in Spain’ says El Economista here.
‘Spain has granted temporary protection to over 138,000 Ukrainian refugees so far’ says SVI here.
El Confidencial has a study which looks at why people are no longer following the news. It’s largely because it’s all depressing stuff. Spaniards lost enthusiasm for keeping up with news, from 85% in 2015 to just 55% today says the report from Oxford University (pdf here).
The regional government of Aragón has vetoed a macro-farm of 20,000 calves to avoid its impact on water, land and the atmosphere says Público here. We read: ‘The Aragonese Environmental Guarantee Institute refuses to authorize a livestock complex with 415 pens that would need more water to operate than a town of 8,000 inhabitants while consuming 180 tons of cereal and fodder daily to produce, they say, a "critical impact" on the local environment’.
During the past decade, forest fires have burned more than a million hectares in Spain while barely 130,000 have been reforested says 20Minutos here.
Are the ecologists to blame? One might think so, says El Salto Diario here, reading the right-wing press who consider – apparently – el ecologismo to be the enemy of prosperity.
More on ‘greenwashing’ (ecoblanqueo) and how to recognise it with Yorokobu here.
‘Metro de Madrid plans to ask the Government for a bailout of more than 150 million euros if energy prices end 2022 with the same high prices with which they started it. The public company from Madrid is in a difficult economic situation since for the first time after almost five years it entered into losses last year and has seen its net worth drastically reduced from 1,170 million in 2010 to 366 million in 2022. A few months ago Metro de Madrid announced that it was cutting approximately 10% of its service, to the detriment of the more than one million people who use the capital city’s underground every day…’. There is however some good news… the regional councillor for transport has ordered the Metro to play classical music (to calm tempers?). The story at El Plural here.
Solar panels are selling well in Spain, but there’s still room for many more says elDiario.es here. ‘There are 150,000 self-consumption installations while Germany has two million’.
As bullfight attendance shrinks, The Guardian asks. ‘Quiet corridas: Spain wonders what to do with unused bullrings’.
When we think of racism – we think of foreigners… In Spain, it’s a little more complicated. From ECD here: ‘A gypsy couple, a girl wearing a veil and a young African star in the upcoming TV campaign against racism’.
‘One of the world’s largest megalithic concentrations discovered in Spain. Archaeologists describe the finding as ‘unique.’ It includes the discovery of 526 menhirs, or standing stones, from between the sixth and third millennia BC’. El País in English has the story.
From NatGeoSpain here: ‘This is the Guadalperal Dolmen in Caceres, the 'Spanish Stonehenge' that appeared after the extreme drought’. Nice aerial photos.
The commercial problems of living alone are explored by El Huff Post here. Everything is angled towards couples, says the article: ‘La Parejocracia’. Wanna share that ride?
Refrigeration gases are to go up by 10% in September with a new tax. When was the last time you topped-up your air-con? 20Minutos has the story.
Ecologistas en Acción have awarded the beaches of Maro in Nerja with the first black flag for contamination in Spain from sun cream.
“Trash architecture has destroyed the Spanish coast”. Andrés Rubio, the author of 'España Fea', says that throughout the country "there is a sprawl of buildings where little or no thought was put into their appearance". An interview at El Diario Montanes (Paywall) here. (thanks to Charles).
Los incendios, and some flat-earthers, with Miguel Charisteas on YouTube here.
Molly from Piccavey recommends eight off-the-beaten-path destinations here.
Cuba Feliz with Lágrimas Negras (street recording, overdubbed). A cute song on YouTube here.