When the rules get changed in mid game…

In 1997 I moved to Spain and spent the next 13 years raising my 3 sons as beautiful, bi-lingual Europeans. Then, in 2010, I came back for a few months to sort out my marriage to my second husband.

The plan was to go straight back but we stayed to look after his elderly parents and then, 2 years later when they had passed, decided to stay on to support and care for my elderly parents, happy in the knowledge that we could move back to Spain once they too had gone. I am a freelance translator and interpreter so can work pretty much anywhere. Our plans were solid.

But then Brexit happened. We hung on, nervous about what might become but also sure that we can’t leave my parents on their own. My younger two had also come over in the early 2010s during the Spanish financial crash and are working towards moving back themselves. My elder son has stayed in Spain, married a Spaniard and now has a young daughter. But we all reassured ourselves that somehow we would be able to move back eventually.

Yesterday the Government released their proposed immigration rules. This is a harsh points system, which makes no allowance at all for self-employed workers. Spain has stated several times that they will reciprocate any rules that the British Government place on Spaniards wishing to live in the UK. This means that I am scuppered: if Spain also decides to refuse entry to self-employed workers I will have no hope of returning.

I am scared that my carefully worked out plans are now in tatters. I am also faced with caring for parents who voted for Brexit and don’t care that my future plans have been put in severe doubt.

And I have no idea what I will be able to do once my parents have eventually passed on. I may never live near my children again, which makes me overwhelmingly sad. ©

Zoë, British

First published 20th February 2020

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