BRITISH expats in Spain have been following the EU summit meeting over the last two days with bated breath to see whether the prime minister of their native country manages to strike a deal which could lead to an in/out referendum.
Spanish authorities are said to be deeply concerned about the possibility of a 'Brexit', given that the coastal areas of the country, and the islands, see more British tourists than anyone else.
And David Cameron's 'red line' on a benefits cap for EU migrants of four years has worried Spain, given that 200,000 Spaniards live and work in the UK, including a high number of medical staff.
Negotiations went on long into the night and did not end until 06.30hrs this morning, meaning the planned 'English breakfast' this morning (Friday) was moved until the evening.
Cameron was also due to meet with individual EU member State leaders to thrash out the less-popular parts of his proposed deal.
Spain has been the least vociferous at the moment, with the Czech, Polish and Hungarian leaders taking centre stage with their criticisms of benefit cuts to EU migrants, given that any proposals agreed would apply to Europe as a whole and many eastern Europeans work in neighbouring countries – in fact, some even commute over borders for their jobs and return to their own countries at night.
This is also the case with many workers in Gibraltar – Spanish, British and native Gibraltarians who are, by default, British passport-holders – and who could face headaches if Britain leaves the EU.
Chief minister of Gibraltar Fabián Picardo wants the UK to remain in the EU.
And British expats, especially pensioners, are worried about their status in EU countries – Spain is home to the majority of these, with an estimated million UK nationals living full-time or part-time in the country.
At present, a per-head contribution is given to EU health authorities by the UK to cover expat pensioners' medical treatment, which these migrants fear may be lost.
And it appears unlikely that the Tories' pledged 'vote for life' will be passed in time for any referendum, meaning those British nationals who left the UK 15 years ago or more will not have a say.
EU nationals in Britain will not be able to vote in the referendum, other than those from the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, with the remaining voters being British or Commonwealth nationals who reside in the UK and expats who emigrated less than 15 years ago.
As yet, no deal has been struck, and the shelved 'English breakfast' was due to take place this evening to discuss Cameron's proposals further.
Meetings could continue over tomorrow (Saturday) in an attempt to break the impasse.
Mariano Rajoy, acting president for Spain, told Cameron at the summit that he believes a second Spanish national election will take place on June 26 – despite negotiations between the PSOE, United Left, Ciudadanos and Podemos being active with meetings almost daily, and the in-house presidential vote due for March 2.
June 26 could be a date for a referendum on a Brexit if Cameron returns home with a deal.
Cameron's aim is for Britain to remain in the EU, and when he gets a deal, he will campaign hard to convince the UK to vote to stay in the Union.
But many of his back-benchers want out and are likely to vote as such, in a personal capacity.
Europe has hinted that if the referendum ends in an 'leave' vote, it will not come forward with a better deal or special concessions for Britain – any deal Cameron achieves before the referendum will be final and binding.
All British expats who are still entitled to vote in UK elections – which means they have been British non-residents for fewer than 15 years – and holiday home owners still tax resident in Britain are urged to ensure they are registered as soon as possible.
Holiday homeowners still resident in the UK will automatically be registered, but will need to sign up for a postal or proxy vote if they plan to be in Spain or other EU country on the day of the referendum.
The process is quick and painless, and full instructions are given on the British government's website in the section Gov.uk/register-to-vote.