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British Expats Could Ensure the UK Remains in the EU14/06/2016
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Nearly two thirds of eligible British expats will vote for the UK to remain in the EU at this month’s EU Referendum, according to a survey by Experts for Expats.
The survey which asked British expats around the world about their voting behaviour found that 63% would vote to remain in the EU, while 12% remained undecided and only 25% would support Brexit.
Robert Hallums, founder of Experts for Expats, believes the expat vote could yet prove crucial “Despite many expats being unable to vote, with the referendum too close to call, hundreds of thousands of British expats could yet cast the deciding vote — and they overwhelmingly want the UK remain in the EU.”
“The lack of planning from the Government which would underpin any exit strategy is absent, creating a vacuum which has subsequently been filled with guesswork and uncertainty.”
The EU Referendum on June 23rd is likely to have a major impact on expats due to currency fluctuations, uncertainty over the UK economy and in the longer term, tax and visa requirements.
With a shameless battle being fought in the UK, it’s vital not to discount the role that British expats could yet have on the outcome, even though up to a third of expats no longer have the vote due to the 15-year rule.
Key influences on voting behaviour
79% of British expats do not believe there are enough facts being presented during the various debates ‑of those looking to vote leave, only 29% believe they have enough factual information to make an informed decision.
Key to the outcome will be the ability of either side to persuade those who remain undecided about which way to vote. For the undecided British expats, their decision will be based on their understanding of the benefits that being a member of the EU brings.
When asked to score the primary factors which could influence their decision, expats rated the benefits of EU membership as the most important factor with an average score of 8.5 out of 10. They also felt that trade agreements were equally important.
The financial impact of EU membership was seen as least important with membership fees only scoring 6.4 and currency fluctuations scoring 7 out of 10.
British expats “silenced”
According to Robert Hallums the crucial expat vote has been swept under the carpet. “The decision whether the UK should remain in the EU or Brexit will impact British expats living in the EU more than anyone else.”
“It’s incredible that the Conservative Government has not only back-tracked on their promise to abolish the 15-year rule, but they are also silencing hundreds of thousands of voters who could be crucial in determining the outcome of the EU Referendum.”
“If David Cameron was serious about wanting to remain, the fact that they continue to turn their backs on tax paying British expats is inexplicable.”
Expats who participated in the survey agreed.
Anne, a British Expat living in France, said “I’m a British citizen but have no ‘right’ to vote for the simple reason that I have been living in France for over 15 years! But there’s no problem when it comes to paying taxes in both France & the UK!”
Harry, also in France, is deeply concerned about the impact of Brexit, “It is a very worrying time for us not knowing what is going to happen, which leads me to an analogy of a potholer faced with entering a pothole he knows well, albeit there are some hazards along the way, OR entering an undiscovered pothole and finding all manner of hazards, getting stuck, and not being able to get out again!!”
James, an expat in Singapore, is disappointed how both sides are running the campaign, and despite wanting to remain, does not like the idea of supporting Cameron, “I am pro staying in. However, the referendum will be based on personalities and nothing to do with the questions asked. By this I mean we have constantly seen Cameron scaremongering, rather than stating precise facts.”
Another expat living in Germany, Elisabeth, has also been shocked by the campaigns, especially interviews by Boris Johnson who she believes is “playing to the masses and anti-German press” and also likened him to Donald Trump.
While it’s hardly a surprise that British expats would seek to remain in the EU, their collective voice should not be underestimated. In most cases they not only pay tax in the UK, but have contributed for many years to the UK, a country which has made every effort to silence their voice.
And yet, with the result of the referendum too close to call, hundreds of thousands of voting expats could yet have the final say on the outcome of the EU Referendum later this month.
About Experts for Expats Ltd
Experts for Expats is an online resource designed for expats, underpinned by a network of independent experts providing impartial advice enabling people to make qualified decisions about their lives abroad.
Experts for Expats