Blog: Britons in Spain to protest over Brexit change to licence rules that has left them stranded – iNews

IN MADRID – Britons have planned protests outside the British embassy in Madrid next week as anger mounted over the failure of diplomats to reach a deal over the ban on UK driving licences in Spain.

Thousands of Britons in Spain who did not convert their UK driving licences to Spanish versions by the deadline of December 2020 are currently not allowed to drive after post-Brexit talks post down.

An extension to allow British residents to use their UK licences has expired but this does not affect tourists or hauliers.

After five months of talks, Spanish and British diplomats have failed to reach a deal.

A Facebook page called Invasion of the British Embassy in Madrid for the driving licence has been set up to articulate the anger of those who cannot take to the road.

After angry Britons said they would stage a protest last week, the British embassy issued a statement saying that it was urgently trying to reach a deal.

In response, Pascal Siegmund, one of the protest organisers, wrote: “We are writing this post following the useless (British) Embassy update. The embassy update didn’t satisfy any of us. We are going to go further (and) organise a protest.”

He said a demonstration may take place on Thursday 22 September in Madrid outside the British embassy and the Spanish Ministry of Transport.

More on Spain

Deb Lee, 63, who is originally from Oxford but now lives on a campsite in Catral near Alicante on the Costa Blanca, has been stranded for the past five months because she is unable to drive.

“I lived in a remote finca but had to move to a campsite where there was a supermarket nearby. I have wasted about €500 (£434) in wasted car insurance and tax while my car sits in the drive,” she told i.

“This has been a disaster for me and thousands of others but the diplomats cannot seem to reach a deal.

Mrs Lee, whose husband still works in Britain as a lorry driver, moved permanently to Spain in 2020.

“After bad advice from an adviser about changing my licence, I missed out on the deadline. Now I don’t want to sit the Spanish driving test on principle,” she said.

“I have been a safe driver for over 40 years, without a point on my licence. How is it fair that an 18-year-old British tourist can come over here and rent a car at an airport, but I cannot drive.”

She said she has suffered stress because she has been left stranded by the licence ban.

Mrs Lee needs dental work, but taxi fares to the nearest surgery are about €50 every time she goes for treatment.

The British embassy in Spain tweeted: “We recognise that negotiations are taking longer than anticipated and longer than either you or we want.

“We are genuinely making progress on the outstanding points but, for reasons we have explained before, we cannot be definitive about the timescale.”

British diplomats urged those who must drive to consider taking a Spanish driving test but acknowledged this may not be easy.

The embassy added: “We know that this is frustrating to hear and we don’t underestimate the impact on those of you who are affected.”

The Spanish Ministry of Transport did not reply to a request for comment from i.

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