No, you can’t get holiday compensation for finding there are too many Spaniards in Spain

The truth behind the most Brexit story ever.

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When Freda Jackson returned from her holiday to Benidorm, she sparked what is possibly the UK’s most Brexit story to date.

“British tourist moans her Benidorm holiday was ruined by ‘too many Spanish people’” the Mirror reported online yesterday, as did the Sun, Express, Indy, Metro, Mail and others.

The Daily Star took it further – using its front page this morning to tell the country that the “Benidumb” holidaymaker was an example of “compo-crazy Britain”, reporting that she’d won compensation from her holiday provider because of all those Spaniards she had to endure in Spain.

“Gran wins payout as there’s ‘too many Spaniards in Spain’” cackles its splash:

Jackson’s comments about Spanish holidaymakers are a stark example of that particular strand of xenophobia – perhaps we can call it Brits Abroad Privilege – that was exposed by the EU referendum debate:

“One evening a Spanish guy nearly knocked me flying and he just walked off without even apologising,” she said. “The entertainment in the hotel was all focused and catered for the Spanish – why can’t the Spanish go somewhere else for their holidays?”

Blindness to “reverse immigration” – whether it’s Brits who have decamped to the Costa Del Sol or own French holiday homes – describing British migrants as “expats” but refusing to accept newcomers vice versa has been a common trope in the Brexit press.

Only four months ago, the Daily Mail was raging against “British holidaymakers” having to pay a visa fee to travel to EU countries after Brexit, for example. As if hard borders should only work one way.

But aside from Jackson’s intolerance, she was not paid compensation or reimbursed for her holiday because there are too many Spaniards in Spain.

In fact, her original interview with the Lancashire Telegraph states that she asked for reimbursement from the package tour operator Thomas Cook because her flights had been changed last-minute, and its recommended hotel was unsuitable for her mobility issues due to chronic arthritis in her right leg. (The hotel was on a hill, their initial room was on the 14th floor and there were 42 steps down to the pool).

Thomas Cook tells me the £566 goodwill gesture offered to Jackson and her friend to split was not because there were “too many Spanish” in the hotel – it is because it didn’t inform her far in enough in advance that the day of her flight out had changed.

A spokesperson says: “Due to a system error Ms Jackson was not informed of a change to her flights until six days before departure. We are very sorry for the inconvenience this caused and are investigating to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We have offered Ms Jackson and her travel companion a gesture of goodwill to try and put things right which we hope she will accept.”

With complaints rising about the hundreds of thousands of offences committed by British tourists in Spain, let’s not give “compo-crazy” travellers any false incentives to be even more hostile and disrespectful towards locals in the countries they choose to visit.

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

She co-hosts the New Statesman podcast, discussing the latest in UK politics.

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