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Brexit exodus hits Spain with 20% of UK expats leaving | World | News

Valencia is undergoing a mass exodus, as 20 per cent of British expats headed back to the UK, uncertain of their future in Spain.

Britons who lived in the Spanish city promised to head home before Britain voted for Brexit last year – and many have kept their word. 

Days before the referendum on June 23, 2016, two Britons ‘Sandra and Alan’ told Spanish newspaper, Las Provincias: “I want to go back to Lancashire. If ‘Brexit’ triumphs, we will return. 

“The doctor here takes care of us because England pays Spain for that care, but if we leave Europe, what will happen to people without private insurance?”

Sandra revealed she had wanted to remain in the European Union (EU) and her husband supported Brexit. 

They spoke from the beach of Arenal de Xàbia, one of the bastions of the British colony in the region of Valencia. 

Just a few days later, when the Leave campaign won the EU Referendum, the exodus of Britons from the region began.

Popular retirement destination, Alicante has also seen a significant number of Britons ditch the sunny climate as the census shows 22,000 citizens fled in just two years.

According to figures from the National Institute of Statistics, in January 2015, the number of UK residents in Valencia was 96,115. 

But just a year later, in January 2016, months before the EU Referendum, the number of Britons established in Valencia was already down to 82,028. 

By January 2017, the number of Britons in the region was 73,304, a drop of 23,000 citizens, meaning one out of five British residents in the region has left.

As Brexit talks get underway between Britain and Europe, one of the key issues up for discussion is the rights of European citizens in the UK.

But it will be equally important for Prime Minister Theresa May and Brexit Secretary David Davis to hammer out the future for British citizens living in Europe.

British expats have felt the effects of an uncertain future post Brexit, as well as facing hardships because of the economic crisis.

In January 2012, there were 755,000 foreigners registered in the region of Valencia, but the number fell to 642,900 last year. 

That means that in five years, the region has lost more than one hundred thousand foreign residents, at a rate of about 20,000 every year. 

Another big worry for Britons living in Europe is their access to health care. Many fear not having health insurance in Spanish cities, prompting them to leave Spain. 

Carole Elizabeth Saunders, councilwoman for the town of Calpe, said: ”Everyone is worried about health care, and although we were very frightened at the beginning, we now have hope that there will be a good agreement.” 

Ms Saunders said the expats had pinned their hopes on the Spanish government striking a deal to help them access care.

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