Brian Cutts is an English teacher and activist in the anti-fascist monument movement of Tortosa.
1. What's your opinion about the fact that you cannot vote in the Brexit referendum?
2. What's your opinion on the state of democracy in Europe, compared to the UK?
3. What could be the repercussions for expats living in the EU after an exit result?
1. On the one hand I don't really mind as I have no intention of going back to live in the UK so I suppose I shouldn't really be voting on the UK's future. However, I do feel strongly that they should remain in the EU and I'm also appalled by the nasty racist campaign many "leavers" are running, which makes me wish I could vote and help the UK to remain as a (relatively) open and free country within the EU!
2. I don't think it's perfect anywhere, and each system has its pros and cons. I like the UK parliamentary system with you knowing who exactly your MP is, but it's hardly fair for the smaller parties who do better under the PR systems run in many European countries. Still, at the end of the day, many government decisions at all levels, all the way up to Brussels, seem to be decided by business lobbies, and I think that's the same Europe over. I don't hold to the idea that the British govt is somehow better than the EU institutions. They all have their problems.
3. That's hard to answer. From what I 've been reading it could affect our rights to healthcare or hinder our free movement around Europe. It will probably mean much more red tape for Brits moving to Europe. On a personal level, if necessary to avoid any problems like these, I could apply for Spanish citizenship now after living and working here for so long, but it'd be a pity. And even more so when I was waiting for the Catalan citizenship to become available!
Berni Armstrong is a lecturer in the translation department of the UAB and singer & songwriter living in Vilanova i Geltru.
1. I think it is a scandal that long term British residents in Spain cannot vote in British elections nor in Spanish elections. We have been effectively disenfranchised. If we lose the right to vote in Britain we should automatically gain the right to vote in our country of abode.
2. The FPTP system in the UK is the most anti-democratic voting system in any modern democracy. If you live in an area that represents a “safe seat” (most seats are safe seats) if you don’t vote with the majority then your vote is simply a waste of time and energy. I lived in solid Tory areas when I was in the UK and my vote for Labour was always just pissing in the wind. No Brexiteers should harp on about the lack of Democracy in the EU while the FPTP system is still operational in the UK. It is absolutely scandalous. My students think I am having them on when I describe the British FPTP system. They immediately say. “But that’s not democratic!” – If they can see it, why can’t the British?
3. Brexit will damage the EU. So the EU is not going to be very pleased with those Brits who wish to continue to benefit from living in the EU. There will probably be all kinds of regulations introduced, such as mandatory resident permits, which will be laborious to obtain and perhaps even expensive. But the worst effects are going to be if borders go back up in Ireland. Ireland was beginning to feel like a single country (if still divided administratively) – putting the borders back up will be a retrograde step: though if it drives moves to unite the island (as I believe it might now the majority are more moderate) then it will ultimately have been a good thing. However, it might also reinforce old divisions.
Brian McClean is retired & a member of ANC and lives near Barcelona.
1. My first reaction was one of disbelief. After a campaign based on gut reactions and little or no information, the uninformed voted to leave. The very next day, their reaction was similar to mine and they all seemed to be asking themselves: “What the fuck have I done?”
2. My personal feeling is that, as “Dubya” once said: “That dawg ain’t gonna hunt!” The requirement for a vote in Parliament means that Article 50 is never going to be evoked. All that has been achieved is to convince our partners that Britain cannot be trusted and that they might just as well fuck the shit out of them whilst the going is good. I must point out that I myself have very serious doubts about many aspects of the EU, but failed to find any of my misgivings in the general scaremongering and rabble-rousing. The two figureheads of the Leave Campaign lost no time in abandoning a sinking ship. The beratings received by Farage in Brussels were priceless FB fodder.
3. The latest joke is that May’s government has announced the scrapping of the European Bill of Rights to be replaced by a British one. Do the Sun and Daily Fail readers really believe the Tories can be trusted with that? The idiot Cameron has created a fucking great can of worms that will take years to close if that ever happens.
Matthew Tree is a writer and lives in Barcelona.
1. My gut feeling about Brexit is that it's now proven beyond any possible doubt to be the stupidest decision ever made since full democracy came to the UK (1917): a result based on false information, tampering with social media data and outright xenophobia.
2. After Brexit, I hope and pray the UK breaks into at least three separate pieces, two of them remaining within the EU. That aside, my only concern is what happens to the EU members there and the UK passport holders in Europe.
3. Impotent. And angry, because as the Brexit referendum had no constitutional precedent, they could have changed the rules to allow people directly affected by the referendum - such as British residents in the EU - to vote. (After all, they did this for the Scottish referendum, in which non-British EU residents of Scotland were given the vote). But no.
Simon Harris is a writer & youtuber and lives in Barcelona.
1. I find it very annoying. As I'm not a Spanish citizen, I'm effectively disenfranchised on all important votes.
2. Europe has a problem of democratic transparency and accountability and the system seems the wrong way round. In the UK legislation is proposed, debated and voted on in the democratically elected House of Commons and then filtered and amended by the unelected House of Lords. In the EU, legislation is proposed mainly by the unelected European Commission and filtered and amended by the European Parliament. The only way for the EU to start to work is for the European Parliament to be the motor behind new legislation with the Commission working like a Senate or House of Lords.
3. Obviously, I'm a little concerned but apparently there will be a two-year disconnection period in which time people like me, who have spent most of our working lives here, can apply for and hopefully obtain Spanish citizenship.
Martin Kirby is a writer & farmer and lives in Marçà.
1. Utterly undemocratic and nonsensical to exclude those who live and work in Europe, people who may have the greatest understanding of the Union and the positives and negatives, and who certainly have a vested interest like every other British national.
2. Good question. There is serious discontent, a palpable sense of unease, a feeling that something is not right in the UK. This is a core wellbeing issue for me as the social cohesion is undermined constantly by the economic drivers that dismiss basic social needs and morality, and which undermine community. There has to be monetary profit in everything, and it is sickening. This is a global issue, of course, and it has to be approached as a matter of common sense, not a political issue. Proportional representation is a vital step forward to people feeling they have representation, a voice. Very sadly, the EU vote has been seen as a chance to bring change, for change is what people want. But this isn't the answer. The change needs to be within the British electoral system, in communities and related to core wellbeing issues. Economy is very important. But in balance with social sustenance, and the EU is a vital democratic, peaceable entity that has flaws that need addressing, yes, but actually holds examples of how the UK can be more democratic, fair and family and community focussed. The world population has trebled in 100 years. Nobody can step away from this and we all have to work on sharing, understanding and supporting - tolerance and goodwill in the face of huge global change and challenge.
3. Grim economically if sterling falls, which is will, but I don't think it will affect me and my family so much as we are integrated, ie work here, pay taxes and social security etc. For pensioners wholly reliant on the UK payouts and who depend on the Spanish health system it is a wholly different matter. The UK faces a huge number of them returning. Spain I expect to be tolerant, but the exchange rate will be the decider.