Spain backs Theresa May’s bid of a fair deal for British expats once the UK leaves the European Union, according to the Express.

Since the referendum results last June, the Prime Minister has been keen to come to a swift agreement with other EU countries regarding the protection of rights for UK nationals residing abroad.

Although attempts to secure a deal last year were rejected by German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council president Donald Tusk, Mrs May has “in principle” gained the backing of Spain.

For the past nine months expats across Europe have been left in limbo, wondering what the effect of leaving the EU will have on their lives. Many worry that important reciprocal agreements involving healthcare and pensions may cease to exist whilst others fear that entitlement to reside in Spain will force them to move back home.

However, Jorge Toledo, the EU secretary for Spain and the person that will lead Madrid’s negotiations with the UK told The Times: “We are broadly in favour of retaining a reciprocal agreement on questions like healthcare and freedom of movement” reports the Express.

“As regards to the rights of EU citizens in the UK and the rights of UK citizens in the EU, Spain is in favour of the amplest respect of these rights in the future but the modalities and conditions will and should be a matter of negotiation,” he said.

This comes as reassuring news for UK nationals living in Spain and indeed Spanish nationals living in the UK.

It is not just reciprocal deals between the UK and Spain which need to be struck; nine European nations have 20,000 or more British expats residing there. Spain has the largest number of British expats with an estimated 761,000 Brits calling it home and is the second most popular destination for emigrating British citizens, according to BBC News.

Last week the legislation was grated Royal Assent and Article 50 will be triggered on March 29, announced the Prime Minister earlier this week. Following two years of hard negotiations the UK should officially be divorced from the EU no later than April 2019.