Brexit, Catalan independence and the great expat escape

I’m currently in Barcelona and the closer we get to winter, the hotter it’s getting. The hottest day of the year is yet to come. On 1st October a referendum is scheduled to take place regarding Catalonia’s future as an independent state. Whether it’s an illegal attempt to seize power by a minority or the repression of a people’s right to decide their future is (fiercely) debatable.

vote poster photo

Depending on whom you speak to, which newspaper you read, which television channel you switch on, you’ll get a very different side of the story. From what I’ve seen, the protests have been largely peaceful – plump old ladies banging paella pans in the street, tattoo clad students perched on each other’s shoulders chanting slogans and flags of independence adorning balconies. The ‘remain’ camp seem less vocal (or intimidated to speak out), but get them talking and you’ll see that their frustration and concerns run just as deep.

democracy photo

I thought I’d escaped endless Brexit bickering for some fun in the sun, but it seems that nationalism has followed me on my holidays. Petty squabbling among diplomats, apathetic politicians, false statistics, a 50/50 split among friends and family – I’ve seen it all before.

I always thought Britain was so different to Spain, but last night as I heard the arguments, the frustration, one side trying (in vain) to convince the other, I realised that we’re more similar than I thought.

From what little I’ve seen of both sides of the debate in Catalonia, things seem to be less hostile and less dirty than the pro and anti Brexit campaigns however. For all their hotheadedness, the Catalans have mostly kept their cool. Let’s hope it stays this way. The tension is simmering and I just hope things don’t boil over.

catalan flag photo

As expats perhaps we’re more inclined to vote to remain, be it in Spain, Europe, or another region of the world. Perhaps we prioritise open borders and powerful passports over local concerns. Or perhaps I’m wrong and the more we travel the more we cling to our birthplace cultural identity. Who knows?

I thought that I’d escape Brexit on my next upcoming expat move but I’m starting to see that nationalism is a hot topic worldwide. I wonder if any country is truly homogeneous and happy? If so, can I vote to move there please?

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