While we were in Spain, Britain voted to leave the EU. A surprise to many in betting agencies, in Britain, in the EU and outside the EU.
The result of the vote was known Friday morning and I bought Saturday’s El Pais to extract a Spanish perspective. Were they interested? Very interested. The first 16 pages were totally dedicated to the story and after that another 5 pages, from a newspaper that was 55 pages in total length.
The front page picture from El Pais captures a mood. The mood I interpret as an editorial image on behalf of the newspaper.
Of the countries in the EU the (non UK) country most impacted by this decision (according to Goldman Sachs) is Spain. The Spanish Stock Exchange fell 12.35% on Friday, more than any stock market around the World.
I can see that El Pais describes it as the worst fall ever. I would have thought that there had been global crashes that have resulted in deeper falls. But I agree, it is a big fall.
Spain runs a surplus with Britain exporting cars, food, drink, and machinery and has some issues: 1. Tourism is 11% of GDP and the greatest single source of those tourists are the 13 million Britons who short stay here each year. A weaker pound will negatively impact that trade. 2. There are 750,000 UK citizens, many of whom who are retirees, who live in Spain. They may now lose healthcare benefits and have an uncertain residential/taxation status. 3. Spain has a number of investments in the UK-O2, 25% of Heathrow airport, Abbey National, TSB and they all just shrank in value.
Most of the reporting was similar to that on the ABC. Criticisms of Corbyn, Scottish Nationalists pushing their agenda, diplomatic commentary from Merkel and Hollande and churlish comments from Martin Schulz. Overall, reflecting measured consistent concerns from a Spanish perspective.
There was a sliver of local opportunism thrown in, after all, Spain is in election mode and goes to the polls on Sunday:
One of the Spanish Ministers stated that the British exit brought closer the day on which the Spanish flag would fly over Gibraltar. “Gibraltar will never be Spanish” was the abrupt response above from Gibraltar’s Governor (if that is his correct title.
While most of the articles were measured with a consistent theme of concern, two of the articles are a little more pointed:
Firstly;Trump with a Thesauraus. Its a quote from elsewhere, but I don’t think Boris Johnson would find anything flattering in the article that followed.
Secondly; El Pais printed a colour coded map of Britain, blue being areas that voted to remain and shades of pink being areas that voted to leave, the deeper the colour the stronger the vote. El Pais visited an area of deepest red……. Doncaster where the vote to leave was 68.9%. They first painted a picture of Doncaster as a place where levels of settled immigrants are significantly lower than the UK average and a place where benefit recipients are significantly higher than the UK average. They found two English men to interview. They described the gentlemen’s tattoos before reporting their comments and reasons for voting to leave the EU. I thought I understood where El Pais sat, context is everything.