Spain is to re-open a consulate in Manchester that was closed during the financial crisis, in order to help Spaniards deal with Brexit, the government has said.
‘Faced with an imminent Brexit, we consider it necessary to reinforce our consular presence in Great Britain to provide legal security to Spaniards and assist them in any procedures or information they may need,’ spokeswoman Isabel Celaá told reporters.
Madrid had closed the Spanish consulate in Manchester in 2011 due to the financial crisis, leaving just two in London and Edinburgh.
The spokeswoman, who is also minister for education, recalled that from the end of 2011 to the end of 2018, the Consulate in London had gone from 68,668 Spaniards registered to 128,232, and Edinburgh, in the same period, had increased from 10,782 to 25,326.
This represents around half of Spaniards living in Britain, who are believed to number between a quarter of a million and 300,000.
‘The perspective of an imminent Brexit makes this situation even more of a concern, since even if the UK approves its exit deal and implements a transition period until the end of 2020, it’s obvious that the level of worries and amount of questions among our nationals living in the UK will increase as this time draws to a close and, with it, so will consultations, transactions and applications to the two Consulates in London and Edinburgh,’ Celaá explained.
She also referred to the European Parliament’s having agreed visa-free travel for British nationals post-Brexit up to a maximum of 90 days in every 180 days, and to the Council of Europe and the European Parliament’s having qualified Gibraltar, officially, as a ‘colony’.
‘This is a great step forward for Spain,’ Celaá said.