Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned this week that Britain’s exit from the EU posed a severe threat to Spain’s recovering economy, and made a plea for cohesion in Europe.

“Brexit is a serious threat,” Rajoy told a Madrid conference organised by the right-of-centre ABC newspaper.

“Without wanting to go into other considerations, I will only tell you that one in five tourists who come to Spain are British, and close to 17 million Britons visited Spain last year,” Rajoy added.

The Brexit-related fall of the value of the pound in recent months has caused concern that fewer Britons may travel, though official figures from the Spanish government in the last seven months since June’s EU referendum suggests very little impact on UK visitors to Spain.

 “I will also tell you that the United Kingdom is the first destination for Spanish companies’ investment and our third commercial partner,” Rajoy said.  

He added that post-Brexit, serious thought needed to be given to improving the EU so that it was “more cohesive, more effective in its decision-making and with better political ambition.”