KING Felipe VI and Queen Letizia are due to be in the UK on the day of the snap election announced today (Tuesday) by Conservative prime minister Theresa May.
In a completely unexpected twist, Mrs May has called Britain back to the polls on June 8 in a move she claims is 'reluctant' and which her predecessor David Cameron says is 'brave and right', and which she hopes will 'consolidate the Conservative mandate' and 'heal divisions in Parliament'.
She will have a busy few days ahead of her in two months' time, since Felipe VI and Letizia are due to arrive in London on June 6 and stay for two days, to discuss UK-Spain bilateral relationships in the hope of keeping the two countries' strong friendship alive, and preserving the rights of citizens of both – especially in light of the impending Brexit process.
Whilst Mrs May insists the Brexit process – now under way after Article 50 was triggered three weeks ago – will not be affected by the general election, speculation is rife that the UK's divorce from the European Union is at the very heart of this shock move.
Especially attentive are Brits living in EU countries – the majority of whom are in Spain – since they had been promised just weeks after the Brexit referendum that those who had been outside the UK for 15 years or more would be given 'votes for life'.
Interestingly, British political authorities and government representatives said last year that there would not be time to lift the 15-year limit in time for the referendum – but it only took a few weeks to do so once the Brexit vote had been cast.
Yet the reopening of democracy to Brits abroad has not actually been signed and sealed, meaning even more may now be disenfranchised and unable to vote in the forthcoming election, which could be key to their future in the EU if an opposition party pledges to stop the Brexit process as part of its campaign.
Chris Madsen has started a petition on Change.org calling for Mrs May to honour her promise 'once and for all' and scrap the 15-year rule, which only applies to a small handful of countries in the world, including Denmark and Ireland.