The recent kind words of the Spanish foreign minister in an interview with the BBC have been picked up by the press as being the end of all doubts: the Brits can stay in Spain following Brexit and all is fine with the world. From The Guardian we read that:
'...Alfonso Dastis said his government would ensure that the lives of Britons in Spain were not disrupted in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Spain is host to the largest number of British citizens living in the EU (308,805) and just under a third (101,045) are aged 65 and over, according to the Office for National Statistics...'.
Two things here - firstly - many non-EU foreigners live in Spain quite happily, who doesn't have an American friend or a Norwegian neighbour? They just have a few more formalities to deal with than EU foreigners. Work-permits, visas and no vote, for example. But, sure, they can live here.
The other thing, of course, is the numbers airily quoted as Gospel: One million Brits, 800,000 Brits, 610,000 and, here we are: 308,805. Depending, of course, on which authority strikes your fancy.
The ‘real number’ of Brits living in Spain, as of January 2017 and according to the National
Institute of Statistics (INE), is just 236,669 Britons registered on the padrón (The Guardian figure is from 2014). Now, we know this number is
highly inaccurate – as the Ministry of the Interior attempts to winnow it down by
asking the town halls to check and remove ‘clutter’ (the town of Mojácar for
instance is aiming at removing around 1,400 foreigners from its current list). At the same time, many Britons don’t bother to register on
the padrón in the first place, with the unhappy result that the only thing we
know about the full-time population of Brits in Spain is that it most certainly
does not add up to the anal number supplied by the INE above.