In her early research with Britons living in Spain, Karen O’Reilly drew attention to the prevalence of a ‘Bad Britain discourse’ in the way they explained their decision to leave the UK and settle in Spain. Her key point was to highlight what this revealed about how these Britons understood themselves, particularly how they understood Britishness.
Fast forward to Brexit and ‘Bad Britain’ takes on a renewed significance for Britons living in the EU27. Indeed, this is a common trope in how those we have been speaking to for the Brexit Brits Abroad project account for Brexit and describe their reactions to it. Michaela talks with Dr Katie Higgins about how we can understand the ‘Bad Britain discourse’ emerging through these responses. Discussing the findings of Katie’s survey with British citizens living in the EU27, and her recently published articleon this topic, she explains what the embarrassment, shame and loss that characterise many of the responses might tell us about how they understand Britain, Britishness and belonging. As she highlights, these responses are far more nuanced and complicated that we might assume on first glance.
When we think about British populations in Spain, our attention is most often drawn to the stereotypical images circulated by the media: pensioners living their retirement in the sun. But what about younger UK citizens living in Spain? What does Brexit mean for the terms on which they live their lives? Terms framed not so much by settlement, but by the ability to move; where Spain is home for today, but perhaps not for tomorrow.
This episode of the podcast focuses on the lives of these younger Britons living southern Spain as Michaela welcomes Mike Danby, into the studio to the latest Brexit Brits Abroad report ‘Talking Brexit with 18-35 year-old UK citizens living in Southern Spain’. Unsettling understandings of migration as a permanent one-off move, and talking about how Mike and his interviewees navigate the changing demands of the European labour market they highlight how Brexit is just one more challenge in their lives.