Monday, 23 October 2017

Faith in Numbers

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.  


  1. I think you had better check with Dr Freud about your use of the word "anal" instead of "annual" (7th word from the end of your article).

    Of course there is probably not going to be any real problem for Brits to stay in Spain, other than a "few" formalities. No, the real problem will be the vexing one of making use of the Spanish health system without having to fork out rather a lot of cash for private medical insurance - perhaps not important if you have had a nice golden hand shake, but rather a problem for the many Brits who can "just manage" at present on a small pension. Every so now and then we hear rumours that the present system (the British government pays for the treatment of Brits in Spain, and the Spanish for the treatment of Spanish people in the UK) will stay in force, but put not your trust in the promises of princes. All rather worrying.

  2. When talking about the bean-counters, 'anal' works for me.