Over 120 people attended the recent Brexit/Bremain conference held in the Adeje Cultural Centre, with questions ranging from issues about pensions to health care provisions and questions surrounding possible financial implications to businesses and exchange rates in the case of a majority vote to leave.
The conference was organised by the FOCUS Adeje International Residents Group and the Adeje Council, with British residents from Adeje and other boroughs in attendance. First to speak was deputy mayor Carmen Rosa Gonzalez Cabrera. She told participants, “Today’s event is about you and how the vote on June 23rd might affect you and your families. I hope that the answers you get this afternoon will clear up doubts you may have, and help you have a clearer vision of what matters.
“I will say one thing from my point of view, from the council’s point of view – you are as much a part of Adeje as anyone else who lives here – we are all part of the European family, and we don’t want to lose you, so I do hope that on June 23rd the majority vote will be to remain in the European Union”.
The panel speakers were Paul Montague, Blevins Franks Tenerife representative, Adeje based Spanish lawyer José Escobedo, and Tenerife blogger and academic Janet Anscombe, all of whom answered a range of questions from the audience, easing fears of any immediate major and unwelcome repercussions in the event of a No vote – with the supposition that in the event of a yes vote very little would need to change.
Paul told the audience that if the majority vote was to leave the European Union, negotiations to “extract the UK from the EU would take a minimum of two years, and most likely many more”. He also referred people to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties ‘Acquired Rights’, which states that the termination of a treaty, in this case the UK’s membership of the EU, ‘does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination’ (Article 70.1B). “In a nutshell, if you have made your bed in another country (taxes, residencia, home and social) then under this convention these have to remain”.
José Escobedo also referred to regional laws which protected residents, and reaffirmed the long standing good relations the British and the Spanish have enjoyed over the centuries, “We even kept one of Nelson’s arms”, adding that this was very unlikely to be changed by the vote. Jose also addressed the legal issue of resident status stating clearly that anyone who had lived and registered as a resident in Spain over a number of years would continue to enjoy all the rights and benefits of a resident regardless of the outcome on June 23rd.
Janet Anscombe told the conference that many of the perceived EU-related problems in the UK were in fact issues of national policy. “The UK has a residency based social welfare system, so anyone who resides in the UK has automatic rights to, housing, social welfare and health benefits, whereas here in Spain it’s a contributory social welfare system, so if you haven’t paid in you can’t claim. That has nothing to do with the EU, it is a result of British Government policy and something I don’t see any political party in the UK likely to change, but people are tending to blame the European Union for the negative effects it can produce”.
At the end of the meeting a show of hands indicated quite a high number of those in attendance had registered to vote, a reflection of both the huge interest this matter has for overseas UK residents and the high profile campaign the UK government has run to encourage the millions of Britons living abroad to register.