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Madrid said on Friday it would allow British citizens living in Spain to stay on if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, giving them until the end of 2020 to apply for permanent residency and making it automatic for many.

Spain has one of the largest British expat communities in the EU. Spain’s Brexit contingency plan makes clear that the measures would be conditional on the same terms applying to Spaniards living and working in Britain.

“Our main objective is that no British or Spanish citizen is left unprotected, neither they nor their relatives,” Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said.

Madrid plans at first to allow British nationals to stay if they hold a simple certificate of residency delivered to them, as to any other EU citizen, before Britain’s exit.

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