I’m always intrigued when I read about the ‘expat community’. “There’s a thriving expat community in Costa Del Watneys,” says Albert Scroggins, a retired old person from England. “We arrange all sorts of events, like we did in England and can always head to the coast where there are mile upon mile of unspoiled English bars.” There are ‘expat communities’ all over the place. So who and what is an expat?
An expat is an expatriate is a person who is living, temporarily or permanently in another country. In other words, a migrant. They go over there, don’t integrate with the community, don’t bother to learn the lingo and cling to the traditions ‘back home’. This is presumably an acceptable form of migration because these people are usually white. As Nigel Farage and others showed during the ugly EU referendum campaign, the migrants the leavers hated had dark skins. Funny that.
So, we now know that expats are migrants, just like the migrants that have come here to work from Europe, except that the vast majority of the migrants we send abroad are retired and largely inactive. And you know what I say about that? Good luck to them.
My loyal reader will know that I am in favour of free movement across the EU. It has benefited our economy, it has benefited many of our citizens who wanted to chase the sun in old age. I would not change that for the world.
Some friends of a friend live in rural France. They have been told that in the event of a no deal Brexit, their health insurance costs will rise from about €120 each per month to between €500 and €600 each per month. Each. Having made the decision to go to France for good, they are facing the grim possibility of having to return to England. They are not alone.
There are people – because I know them, personally – who voted to leave the EU, yet have long held ambitions to retire to Spain. They love the lifestyle, they love the climate, they have many friends in Spain; all expats. My hope is that Britain will get a deal with the EU that will enable them to join their friends, but it’s all up in the air now. They’re worried. They’ve got a lot to be worried about.
The point is that we seem to have good migrants and bad migrants. We see Brit expats abroad as being good migrants but we see European expats as bad migrants. It’s bonkers, but don’t worry: if we lose free movement, it will be much harder to live abroad, wherever your abroad is. Pulling up the drawbridge to Europe will affect us every bit as much as it will affect those wretched Europeans. And what makes it worse is that it was the older generation that took away the free movement they enjoyed from their children.
Expats, migrants – the same thing. I have no problem with free movement in Europe. Sadly, I’m in the minority on this one.