Pensioner campaigners protest Britain’s position on Brexit

Lisa F. Young Shutterstock
Unable to afford to stay healthy

CAMPAIGN groups championing the rights of British pensioners living in the EU fear that Brexit may force many hundreds of thousands to return to the UK, placing enormous strain on the UK’s already overburdened health and social care services.

Bremain in Spain (, a group representing UK citizens in Spain, believes that of the 103,000 pensioners living in Spain, a significant proportion could be forced to return to Britain if their reciprocal healthcare arrangements are removed and their pensions frozen because of a potential end to the triple-lock agreement.

-- Advertisement --

Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain, explains: “The UK government’s refusal to give assurances on reciprocal healthcare agreements and pension updating, along with the fall in the value of Pound Sterling against Euro following the Referendum vote and in the run-up to Article 50 being triggered, have led many pensioners to reluctantly consider leaving their present homes in the EU.”

She adds: “There are also serious concerns as to whether returning pensioners would be forced to wait six months before receiving healthcare from the NHS, while those remaining in the EU could be asked to prove they have private health insurance: this would be denied to many because of their age or pre-existing conditions. Under private health insurance, they might also be required to pay 100 per cent instead of 10 per cent of prescription costs, which would hit pensioners hard in the pocket.”

Bremain in Spain members are concerned that, in the event of being forced to move back to Britain, the value of their Spanish homes would be insufficient to buy UK homes. As returning pensioners would also be ineligible for new mortgages, they would be forced to apply for social housing. Some say they do not have sufficient funds to move themselves and their possessions back to the UK.

To raise awareness of these issues, Bremain in Spain is participating in the ‘Unite for Europe March’ in Hyde Park, London, on March 25. Group representatives will carry two large banners produced by political activist, Madelina Kay, which are designed to highlight the plight of the UK’s pensioners in the EU. One banner features the infamous red “battle bus” – but this time bearing the slogan: “If 350,000 pensioners were forced to return to the UK, could our NHS cope?” The other features Nigel Farage presiding over a large queue of pensioners, instead of refugees, in a twist on the original ‘Breaking Point’ poster that proved so controversial.

As well as attending March for Europe, Bremain in Spain is collaborating with 11 other groups representing British citizens in the EU. It has also presented evidence to a Select Committee for Exiting the European Union and has lobbied MPs and Peers to give pensioners a voice and protect their rights.

Furthermore, it is promoting the ‘Choose Freedom’ EU Passport Campaign – a citizens’ initiative that requires one million signatures from across the EU to be heard at the EU Parliament.


  1. On the 350,000 question the answer would be yes the NHS could cope, at least as well as it is now anyway. The reason for that is because if retired and holidaymakers “if you are working you are paying into the health service of the country you will get local HS” had to return then the EU retired citizens in the UK would need to leave the UK also, that along with the saving on the medical costs of these people could be put back into the NHS in the UK, £155M plus the £30M of treating EU citizens in UK PA.

    Pensions might be frozen that’s true but that’s the case for other pensioners living outside the EU! I do not agree with this but the issue should be taken up with the UK Gov not on the grounds of Brexit but on the grounds it is discrimination against people who leave the reside out of the UK!

    Finally to help try and make people understand: The UK is not the one that will take the decision here, the way this situation goes depends on the EU as much as the UK so you need to sit back and see how things progress in any negotiations. I am sure ppl are aware that numerous subjects have chucked a lot of money at this and cost the tax payers of the UK millions as well as some very powerful people having tried to make a but they have all failed so…. the UK will try and go forward to help all if it can!

  2. I am a UK pensioner living in Spain and disagree with the tone of this article.
    At present, rightly so, there are no available facts related to any of the statements. The title of the source organisation exposes their view as one for remain in Europe and the suppositions made are loaded to support their view. Until negotiations begin and are published by either side as positions there can be no clarity either way, and only when negotiations are completed will the suppositions be proven or otherwise.
    By all means make representations to the Government to try to secure benefit for the pensioners living in Spain but please stop scaremongering.

  3. It is amazing how so little knowledge and ignorance can cause this sort of article to be written by organisations like Bremain.
    The choice of UK citizens choosing to live outside the UK is surely based on a need for change in their lifestyle knowing any risks that may manifest themselves (which in EU are very small). Reciprocal arrangements will continue to apply for one good reason in that EU member states will not put their citizens living in the UK at risk. The same with trade and services. Reciprocal arrangements on tariff charges will apply and EU commission is aware of this so forget trade deals.
    More importantly, the people who should have had the right to vote in the referendum live in the UK – those of us who chose to live on mainland Europe have no rights in the matter and we should not burden UK residents with our reservations. Pensioners here with any fears can apply for residency here.

  4. ” At present, rightly so, there are no available facts related to this statement.”

    Surely there should have been facts available BEFORE the referendum?

  5. There are nearly half a million pensioners living in the EU who receive a UK state pension. At the moment, they still receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension. The UK government have maintained that they only give the annual increase to the UK State Pension where they are “legally obliged” to. Once the UK leave the EU (via Brexit), the UK government will no longer be “legally obliged” to give the annual UK State Pension increase to the nearly half a million pensioners referred to above. We at the International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP) believe this to be unfair and discriminatory. Please sign our petition at and speak out against this injustice.

  6. This is the letter I sent in to EWN but it did not get published:
    I think it is about time the wringers of hands and doom foretellers grasped some sense of reality. No country in their right minds are going to bring in tariffs and trade barriers against the UK and for the same economic reasons no country will chuck Brits out nor Britain throw out the much needed European workers, particularly in either agriculture or specialised skilled work.

    One way of Britain showing a commitment to its European residents would be to enact a confirmation that existing European residents in the UK at the time of actual Brexit can stay & enjoy their current rights there BUT this would only be triggered when Europe passes a quid pro quo confirmation for Brits residing in Europe. Seems logical.

    Instead of all this wasted effort going into trying to reverse the referendum result, we should all be encouraging each other to be positive and make it work-particularly the media and here with the English language newspapers, rather than trying to appeal to the lowest level of sensationalism in their reporting.

    Please give us some positivity in the Letters section.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here