"There's a lot of uncertainty; prices of products are already going up"
Javier Martín recalls the last three summers he spent in his native Vélez-Málaga. “I barely went out; I was working in a chiringuito in Almayate all day long,” he says.
“It got to the point where I said that things had to change and I decided to pack my bags and go to England. At first I thought of London, but I knew a girl from Manchester, who spent her summer holidays in Alcaucín, and she encouraged me to go there,” explains this 27-year-old, thinking back to a time when Brexit was no more than a vague idea that few gave credit to.
Since October 2013 Javier has lived in the town of Milnrow, just 20 minutes’ drive from Manchester. At first he found work in the hospitality industry - “the easiest way of finding a job [in the UK]”, according to Javier, whose parents run a restaurant in Vélez, where he started to work when he dropped out of school.
“Like so many other young people, before the crisis, when I was barely 16, I wanted to work and earn a salary,” he explains from his home in England where he has settled down “very well” and has started a family. Fourteen months ago his girlfriend, 20-year-old hairdresser Olivia Holt, gave birth to their son Luca.
Now the young Spaniard explains that Brexit is an issue that worries him “quite a lot”, despite not knowing yet what the consequences will be for the British and for Europeans in Britain.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty, because at first they said nothing would change, but we’ve already seen how Sterling has fallen, and the prices of products are already going up,” he says.
Javier points out that the majority of his girlfriend’s family voted against the UK leaving the EU. “They are the first to travel abroad, so it didn’t make much sense for them to say they wanted to leave Europe,” he says. “The fear of immigration, especially Muslims,” is what he believes is behind the unexpected Brexit result.
“Although no one says so, I think people voted thinking that [with Brexit] they would control the arrival of immigrants,” he says.
This Spaniard has noted that, just two months after the referendum, “more and more people are rethinking their vote and are now calling for [Britain] not to go ahead with the exit,” he says.
In any case he points out that the new post-Brexit scenario will not become clear for another two years.
Meanwhile Javier, whose girlfriend is not working at the moment due to the expense of nursery schools, earns a living with the flooring and carpet installation firm he joined a year ago. “I’m gradually learning, but my bosses are very happy with me,” he says.
“The most important thing when looking for a job in England is motivation and the language, much more than qualifications,” he continues.
“Here they don’t ask you what qualifications you have, but whether you are able to work and are motivated and enthusiastic,” he says, adding that what he found most difficult to get used to was the rainy and dull climate. “It’s the worst part for me, being used to Vélez-Málaga,” says Javier, who tries to visit his family in Spain at least twice a year. “And my parents come here,” he points out.
His next visit to the Axarquía will be in October when he comes home for his brother’s wedding.
As for the future, Javier doesn’t know what will happen “but we’re staying here for the time being”.
“Things in Spain are not easy, although it’s clear I would like to live there with my partner and our son,” he concludes.surinenglish