In light of Brexit which was supposed to happen in March 2019, but was then pushed back to October 31st because MPs in Westminster didn't agree with Theresa May's backstop deal; we feel that it's worth giving native English teachers from Britain the low-down on the current Brexit situation; the possible scenarios and the impact to Spain's multi-million Euro English language industry in the event of a no-deal Brexit and what it might mean for your current employment situation.
General advice for native British teachers
Perhaps you've not really given much thought to it because you've rather already got your NIE; or hadn't planned on staying long and you're sipping cañas in the sun, eating tapas and dipping bread in oil, but rather than adopting the Spanish laissez-faire attitude to politics and economics, is it now time to start getting your finger out and making preparations if the worst was to happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit? There is much speculation and an increasing likelihood that Britain will crash out of Europe without a deal
We endeavour to state facts from the most credible sources of information, however, if you have read something different to what's written in this article from a reliable source, please do let us know in the comments below and since a deal is yet to be agreed, much of the scenarios are hypothetical (but based on some of the most up to date news publications and information sources) and since we don't have a crystal ball, you could argue that anything is possible.
Anything written in this post about the rights of British citizens in the EU and vice-versa is subject to possible changes and discrepancies. This article more aims to raise questions and leaves you to make up your own mind, because it doesn't seem that even our own government have made anything official yet, but we will do our best to offer you the most credible information as possible.
El Universo del Inglés will not be held liable for any actions readers take based on information written in this article or elsewhere on the platform.
Statements from the EU
Britain has been accused of 'running around like idiots' by a top EU official and perhaps there's a lot of truth in that, but this is not so dissimilar to the kind of provocative rhetoric used by former Polish prime minister and current President of the European Council - Donald Tusk - who malevolently said 'there's a special place in hell for Brexiteers), sounds like a load of Bravado, don't you think?
Since Theresa May stepped down as Britain's prime minister and Boris Johnson triumphantly stepped into No. 10, the EU has still not changed it's position on the backstop deal which failed to get through the British (effectively the backstop agreement is a legal clause in the Brexit deal to ensure that there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland after Brexit).
Statements from Britian
Boris Johnson has vowed to leave the EU on 31st October 2019, with or without a deal. He has promised that EU citizens who already reside in the UK will be able to remain in the UK even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
But what about native English teachers from the UK currently residing in Spain? Currently, no legally-binding deal has been struck between London and Brussels, so until it's set in law all of this is essentially meaningless and anything could be possible; merely the EU has issued a document advising member states to 'take a generous approach to UK nationals who are already resident in their territory'
If Britain leaves without a deal, neither has there been anything of real clarity from the British embassy in Madrid about what will happen to British residents in Spain after a no-deal Brexit scenario. On the British Embassay's sister Facebook page '
Residency was one of the key areas covered in Tuesday’s Q&A. Read on for clarification on two of the main questions:
Being correctly registered as resident: this currently means having the green A4 or credit card-sized certificate “certificado de registro”, which you get from extranjeria or the national police. The NIE on a white piece of paper is not the same thing. There is no difference in validity between the A4 certificate and the smaller one. It just reflects when you received it. If you are living in Spain but don’t yet have a green certificate, you need to register as a resident – before the UK leaves the EU if you can (appointments are available in many places) or during the transition or grace period of 21 months if you cannot.
Permanent residence: Some people have the phrase “residente comunitario desde x date” on their certificate, while others have “residente permanente desde x date”. Both mean that you are registered in Spain as a resident and able to live and work here. The “permanente” means that after living here for five years you have exchanged your previous certificate for a permanent one. This is not obligatory, but it authorises indefinite residence and work in Spain, under the same conditions as Spaniards. Whether your certificate says permanente or not you will be able to remain in Spain after Brexit.
As we mentioned above, if the UK leaves without a deal, none of this can necessarily offer any real kind of legal guarantee, unless there is a deal struck between London and Brussels before October 31st 2019.
There has been some speculation that even if a native English teacher holds a NIE card then this will be rendered invalid because it only applies to EU CITIZENS, which means if the UK crashes out of Europe without a deal then their NIE card would be as useless as a blank cheque because they wouldn't legally be recognised as EU citizens.
Perhaps it's not all doom and gloom
Going back to the European Commission's document, it addresses several contingency plans which may quell your fears:
What will be the legal situation of EU citizens residing in the UK in case of a no
The Commission has called upon Member States to take a generous approach
to UK nationals who are already resident in their territory. The Commission
expects the reassurances given by the UK authorities – that, even in case of
no deal, the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom will be protected in a
similar way – to be formalised soon so that it can be relied upon by citizens.
Will periods of legal residence of a UK national in an EU27 Member State
before the withdrawal date count towards acquiring a long-term residence
permit in that Member State?
The Commission confirmed in its Communication of 13 November 2018 that,
in the Member State of residence, periods of legal residence of UK nationals
prior to withdrawal also count for the purpose of attributing EU long-term
resident status to UK nationals (and their third-country family members)
under the terms of Directive 2003/109/EC.
If the above statements are upheld in the event of a no-deal Brexit scenario, then perhaps if you have been teaching in Spain and you have already obtained a NIE card then their maybe no chaos.
Could Boris' political Earthquake drastically break down negotiation talks?
Now that Boris has charged into office, trashed the labour party in parliament and Jeremy Corbyn (who takes it in his stride quite well and knows he is a threat to Boris when it comes to getting the deal through parliament), will Boris stick up his middle finger to the EU at the will of many Breixteers should the EU continue to dig their heels in with the backstop change request? And safe in the knowledge that Trump has got his back (Trump: "he's a good man, I like him"). Boris is a clever guy, there's no doubting that, however his leadership is also about ensuring the Tory Party remain in power and win more seats come the election that will probably take place sometime this year, bolstering Boris' chance of winning seats and getting the Brexit deal he wants through parliament.
Boris has also asked the EU to rip up Theresa May's Brexit deal, which was rejected by the British parliament three times. This might lead to a drastic break down in negotiating a deal between Britain and Brussels and begin a kind of cold war between the two.
If British English teachers have to leave Spain, how will this impact language schools and students?
If a no-deal Brexit scenario happens, whereby British English teachers no longer have the legal right to reside in Spain post-Brexit, there has been some speculation that this will be detrimental to Spain's English language industry and quality of education in Spain.
For the thousands of native English teachers working in Spain as teachers, even if those teachers hold a legally-binding contract with an English school or institution, this may be rendered as bearing no legal credibility in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31st October and those teachers could be made to leave Spain. What could happen to the 10s of thousands of language schools and British schools if this came to be? These institutions would surely have to ensure their employees are legally permitted to work in Spain, however, with nothing being legally agreed between London and Brussels, let alone provisionally, how can anything be guaranteed?
However, the local, a very credible source of Spanish news in English, published an article back in February this year with the following information:
The British Ambassador, Simon Manley, and his team have sought to reassure British residents that as long as they have officially registered and are here legally when Brexit happens, then the Spanish have said they will do everything possible to protect the existing rights of British residents living in Spain.
Of course, as outlined earlier on this article, this could all be meaningless now that Boris has captained his Brexit warship, probably with Nigel Farage manning the cannons, and Trump ready to sail alongside should Boris need some assistance (contingent upon selling the NHS to his private healthcare firms 😉 ).
What do you think? Will Spain keep their promise of assuring current residents and British teachers that they can remain in Spain during either a transition period if a deal is agreed or even in the event of a no-deal scenario? Let us know down in the comments below.
At a big stretch, could all British teachers hold out in Gibraltar if they're asked to leave?
Like with the Falklands (or Islas Malvinas in Spanish), Britain has always stood firm with its position regarding Gibraltar, that it will remain as British territory and Westminster will not allow it to be used as 'bargaining chips' for giving the EU advantages on the deal they want. King Felipe of Spain made a state visit to the UK in July 2017 and made a warm and humbling speech about maintaining good relations between Britain and Spain after Brexit, perhaps on the contrary he did call for a "dialogue" to begin regarding the status of Gibraltar.
However, perhaps holding out in Gibralatar isn't such a crazy idea until all of this crap blows over and some sort of agreement is reached - what do you think?
More on Gibraltar and the British Navy
Gibraltar is heavily guarded by the British navy, who have always stood strong against any unauthorised entry into British territory and issued strong warnings to ships who attempt to access British waters around Gibraltar. If English teachers stayed in Gibraltar while the no-deal Brexit position was running its course, it's likely the British navy and military would stand strong against any attempt to overthrow Gibraltar and send British citizens home (let's hope it doesn't come to anything like that? For me personally this would be an extremely sad and tragic scenario because I love Spanish people and Spain so much. At the moment Brexit is a diplomatic 'war' between London and Brussels, rather than individual member states).
Spain's English language industry
So, setting the hypothetical political apocalypse scenarios aside, what does this all mean for Spain's giant English language industry? Will there be empty classrooms without teachers and the parents of students' paying for tuition banging at the doors of language schools demanding their money back? Or worse even suing them because of the upset caused to their sons' and daughters' invaluable English education?
Of course, not all English teachers in Spain are teachers from the UK and those English teachers who are perhaps Spanish would likely be asked to fill any shortages of teachers. However, parents of students who have been promised their son or daughter will have a native English teacher might be quite upset by this, further complicating the problem. Moreover, Spain has a shortage of English teachers with a native-like command of the English language (and particularly in Andalusia, where El Pais reports English teachers were recruited with a B1 level of English) which is why they employ teachers from overseas - so will language schools be paying for British teachers' visas? This of course is all speculation but this would be an extra cost that some language schools in Spain may not be able to afford.
Spain is already in the bottom 10 of the English proficiency index and it has struggled to recruit teachers with a sufficient level of English that's high enough to teach English at the top level (which is why there are often native teachers in language schools, but not always), and who perhaps don't want to work for a measly €10-€12 an hour, on a zero-hours-type contract; often with no holiday pay and very few workers' rights; when they could teach in somewhere like Vietnam, Saudi or China and live like a king with their flights, visas and rent paid, a company car, phone, a MacBook and other lovely perks.
If you're a British English teacher what are you going to do?
It would seem a little unnecessary to start panicking now and I think it's likely Spain will act in good faith towards British citizens whatever happens in the coming months and years. However, do make sure you have got your NIE residency card, and if you've been here for more than five years make all efforts to get it made into a permanent one for extra security.
We hope you found this post informative and of help to your future as British English teacher in Spain. Let us know down in the comments below what your thoughts are and what your plans are - whether that's getting the f**k out of Spain, staying in Spain or just not bothering to worry.