Dozens of British expats living in Spain staged a Brexit protest in the streets of Malaga, declaring ‘the UK has forgotten us’.
The Brits waved European Union, Spanish and British flags and held banners reading “They’re trying to make us leave the EU” and “Take back control: My grandkids’ future”.
They are worried they will lose free access to Spanish healthcare, currently assured by the EU, as Britain crashes out of the bloc, possibly without a deal.
Protesters hit out at the Conservative Government, with Tamara Essex, a 60-year-old from Dorset, saying: “Spain is doing everything it can to protect us. The UK government has forgotten us.”
She said Spain had done more for Britons living in the country than the UK Government.
During Sunday’s demonstration the Brits marched through the streets of Malaga, a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, to register their concerns about their uncertain status ahead of the October 31 deadline.
Spain is home to around 300,000 Britons and is the most popular European retirement destination for UK residents, with around a third of them aged over 65.
Among foreign nationals, they are by far the biggest users of Spain’s state-funded universal healthcare system.
Together with Portugal, the Iberian peninsula accounts for almost a quarter of all Britons living in Europe, according to the UN.
Michael Soffe, a 61-year-old businessman who has lived in Malaga for 30 years, said: “We feel really forgotten here in Spain.
“Many here are pensioners – will they lose their healthcare overnight, for example?”
Acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who could be replaced following November elections, has sought to reassure Britons living in Spain, promising to protect their rights after Brexit.
Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay visited Spain last week to discuss the exit with Spanish officials and hear from groups representing Britons in Spain.
The British Government is in talks with Spain about protecting access to healthcare, he said.
A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) said on Sunday: “The Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay held productive discussions with groups representing the British community in Spain while in Madrid last week and made clear that protecting the rights of both UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens in the UK is a key priority for this government.
“But we cannot protect the rights of UK nationals unilaterally.
“We have made an unequivocal guarantee to EU citizens now living and working among us that their rights will be protected and that they can continue to live here as they do today.
“We urge other EU member states to do the same for UK nationals living in their countries and give them the certainty they need by matching our generous offer.”
The protest in Malaga was held as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Brussels will insist on border checks if there is a no-deal Brexit in order to preserve the interests of the EU.
In an interview with Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, he insisted that Brussels was “in no way responsible” for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, saying the blame would lay squarely with the UK.
But he said “we can have a deal”, and Boris Johnson’s proposals for dealing with the problems Brexit will create at the border with Ireland were the basis for progress.
The Supreme Court is hoping to announce its decision this week on the legality of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament
Mr Johnson has vowed to leave the EU “do or die” on October 31.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Government will respect the Supreme Court’s ruling on the move to suspend Parliament in the run-up to Brexit.
Pressed on whether Northern Ireland could have different EU customs arrangements to the rest of the UK, Mr Raab said: “No, of course, that would be wrong.”
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would guide him on how to campaign in a second Brexit referendum, pledging to offer voters a choice between staying in the EU and a “credible” deal.