British people living in Spain will be allowed to stay there even if the UK leaves the European Union without striking a withdrawal deal, the Spanish foreign minister has said.
Alfonso Dastis said his government would ensure that the lives of Britons in Spain were not disrupted in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Spain is host to the largest number of British citizens living in the EU (308,805) and just under a third (101,045) are aged 65 and over, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Theresa May is facing pressure from some Tories to leave the EU without an agreement so Britain can free itself from Brussels regulations, avoid a costly “divorce bill” and take what some see as full advantage of the benefits of Brexit.
Dastis’s comments may be seized upon by Brexiter Tories as evidence that a no-deal Brexit is a workable solution.
He told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “I do hope that there will be a deal. If there is no deal we will make sure that the lives of ordinary people who are in Spain – the UK people – are not disrupted.
“As you know, the relationship between the UK and Spain is a very close one in terms of economic relations and also social exchanges. Over 17 million Brits come to Spain every year and many of them live here or retire here and we want to keep it that way as much as possible.”
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