Kate Mentink, who has worked closely with the Spanish authorities in considering Brexit. | Teresa Ayuga

Tens of thousands of British expatriates and British businesses across the Balearics and up and down Spain have been deeply worried for months about the implications of Britain voting to leave the European Union. Many of them sat through the night watching Brexit become a reality and now we are all wondering what happens next.

Kate Mentink, a former Partido Popular councillor in Calvia with a portfolio for foreign residents and advisor to the Balearic government on such matters, has been discussing the implications with the Spanish authorities for many months to try and provide concrete information for expatriates and businesses.

Yesterday morning, while admitting that "it was a sad day for Britain", she did however have some words of reassurance in the short term. Nonetheless, she is disappointed by the result.

"Britain is going to slip into a period of great instability. We’ve already seen Cameron announce his resignation and Corbyn is also in a bit of pickle. We have seen political parties split and the country divide. While London, N. Ireland and Scotland voted to remain, the Midlands and the North voted to leave. We’ve seen 250 billion pounds pumped into the city within hours of the result and the value of the pound drop sharply. The result will damage the economy and jobs and despite all the talk of the need for calm and stability, we are seeing quite the opposite.

"We have a divided society in Britain. We had the young generation voting in, looking forward to continue enjoying the benefits of being part of Europe, being able to go on Erasmus educational programmes or working abroad etc. This result will limit their future options. But I think the older generation, even here in Spain, was thinking about how Britain was 50 years ago, ‘Britain rules the waves’, not thinking about how it will be for their children and grandchildren.

"It has been a step backwards, not a move forwards and it could take many years for that calm and stability to settle down and for Britain to find its new path in the world. Britain now stands on very unsteady ground, hoping to rekindle its economic ties with the Commonwealth, but many of those countries are much more developed than they were fifty years ago and already have their free trade agreements in place."

Here, more closer to what is home to hundreds of thousands of expatriate Britons, there is however no need to panic.

"I have spent months discussing what will happen in the event of the Brexit. To start with, nobody believed it would happen. However, what I can confirm, and it is EU law, is that all of the agreements currently in place will remain so until June 2018, unless Britain decides otherwise - which is highly unlikely - so the status quo for expatriates, especially those who are registered with their local councils and have a resident permit, will remain the same until then. The same goes for new arrivals between now and then.

"But in June 2018 all of the current agreements Britain has with the EU, be it Spain, France, wherever, will become null and void. So, what we need is Britain and Spain to begin negotiating about what is going to happen post-2018. But that, for the time being, is going to be difficult because not only do we have political uncertainty in the UK, Spain goes to the polls again on Sunday, and it is highly unlikely that there will be a clear winner.

"For the time being, not only will the British government have no one to negotiate with in Spain, ongoing domestic political uncertainty will not encourage investment from the UK into Spain. But once those discussions do start, the worst-case scenario in two years time is that Britons may be treated like other non-EU immigrants and may need to have visas. Another thing I do know is that many of those entitled to, are considering taking up Spanish nationality, but it’s early days."