surinenglish

The Spanish anti-Brexit train gains momentum in the UK

Aratxu protests almost daily outside Parliament.
Aratxu protests almost daily outside Parliament. / R. C.
  • Tube driver Aratxu Blanco is one of thousands of Spaniards living in the UK concerned about their future after Brexit

Aratxu Blanco decided to get involved in the fight against "the madness" of Brexit when one day, after the referendum, one of her fellow London tube drivers asked her when she was going to pack her bags and return to Spain. "He made this 'joke', as he called it, three or four days in a row," says the woman from Sestao in the Basque Country who can be found almost daily outside the Houses of Parliament, protesting against Brexit or calling for a second referendum.

Shortly after the first and so far only referendum, she found herself a member of the 'Españoles en Reino Unido - Surviving Brexit!' Facebook page which she soon became an administrator of.

"I couldn't get behind the idea that this country, which has always been so liberal and which has welcomed me could suddenly be led by this black cloud, the far right," she explains.

The group, which now has more than 5,000 followers, has become a valuable meeting point for the many Spanish people in the UK who feel threatened by the uncertainty of Brexit, as well as by far right-wing people emboldened by the outcome of the referendum.

"We've heard about a girl who lived in a small town being followed while she was with her small child, threatened by a woman who was following her; the Venezuelan parents of a Spanish girl who sold everything to move to the UK and don't know if they'll be able to stay; Spanish people married to Brits who don't know what their status will be; divorces because of tensions in families; and various others who say they will leave, come what may with Brexit, because they don't want to live here anymore," says Aratxu.

However, her work is not just limited to social media, Aratxu regulary goes to Parliament to join protests: "Sometimes there have been ten of us, other times 57, but now there are hundreds as the vote in parliament draws closer."

Despite threats and being called "traitors", Aratxu is confident "we are on the right side of history".

"They say that we are being anti-democratic but of course we believe in democracy, that's why we're protesting!" she says. "People are discovering what is going to happen and they are changing their mind."