As Britain continues to bask in its typical balmy autumnal weather, thousands of immigrants from Spain, the south of France and Portugal are heading to the UK for the lifestyle and the weather.
“After Geraldo sold his business we left came to Britain, mainly for the weather really,” said Maria Billingso through an interpreter. “Obviously Spain is finished as a country now anyway, so we came to Torbay where the quality of life is so much better. Although you can't get a decent paella and the locals are quite lazy.”
Maria Billingso is one of the increasing number of ex-pats from Spain and other countries who have come to Britain for retirement. Spanish communities in many tourist hotspots are rapidly growing, although there are complaints regarding a lack of integration between the newcomers and their adopted communities.
“They come over here, they don't learn the language, walking around in their ‘Bandera de Espana’ shorts and calling everyone Dave,” said Dave, a pub landlord. “They get fuelled up on San Miguel and insist we switch the TV to La Liga matches.”
Although the ex-pats have turned their backs on their homelands, the websites of right-wing Spanish and French newspapers are filled with comments from residents of the UK who simply won’t leave the country they don’t want to live in alone.
“I don’t speak English very well, and quite often there is nothing to do but sit in the sun in England, so I like to fill my time checking onto the events back-home that actually don’t affect me anymore,” said Billingso. “I like to highlight the articles that I feel are why I left Spain and why everything in Britain is great. Then I end by telling everyone how much I miss buying mantecados from Mercadona.”
In some parts of Britain the ex-pats now out number the natives and with new developments being tailored to the visitors leisure needs, many local Britons are finding it difficult get on the property ladder.
“You look at these new places springing up, they have heating, and even running water some of them,” said one Gravesend resident. “But there is no way my kids are going to be able to afford an apartment in the new bullfighting complex, not even in that tower they are building to push donkeys off.”
It isn’t just the accommodation that is starting to concern local residents, it is the gradual shift of political and economic power in favour of the ex-pats.
“It is important that we have our voices heard in the local council so that our planning needs are reflected and that is why I am running for Mayor,” continued Maria through her interpreter. “I will of course learn English, but until then I need planning permission for a satellite dish to receive TVE as British TV is mierda.”
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