I dont want to go back with nothing: the Brexit threat to Spains little Britain
In one of the biggest British enclaves outside the UK, the EU referendum poses an existential threat to an expat Shangri-La based on bowls, beaches and high-quality free healthcare. But is there any real love for Europe there?
Seventy miles down theCosta Blanca from Benidorm, where the youth of Britain traditionally go toperform rites of passage raucously, lies a very different but even more British-dominated beach resort.
In theory, it is only 40 minutes from Alicante airport. But it is so new as an entity that most maps fail to recognise its existence. Taxi drivers and ambulances alike get lost amid the confusion of roundabouts and unmarked sidestreets. My own satnav became hysterical. The place is called Orihuela Costa. Itis part of the same municipality as the charmingly medieval city of Orihuela, 15miles inland, but the two should definitely not be confused. The one is very Spanish; the other emphatically not.
The characteristic sound of Orihuela Costa is not, however, the all-night yelling and 4am pukes associated with Benidorm; rather the clack and murmur of a game of bowls. There are very few conventional tourists, there being only one sizable hotel. The young are largely invisible. Instead, it constitutes a massive retirement village.
Despite its anonymity, this is the largest British enclave in Spain, and probably the largest in the world, if one excludes Perth and Sydney as containing aspirant Australians rather than expats. These people have no interest whatsoever inbecoming Spanish or, in most cases, learning the language beyond the tourist basics of hola-gracias-adis, and in some cases not even that. One resident thought that perhaps half hisneighbours had never even been toOrihuela city. Some people give up motoring because they are scared of driving on the right.