• Austria's news in English
Opinion - Brexit
Brits in EU: It's your future, so act now to keep Britain in
Photo: Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP

Brits in EU: It's your future, so act now to keep Britain in

Jessica Jones · 3 Mar 2016, 08:00

Published: 03 Mar 2016 08:00 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Alex is a bright ambitious 26-year-old British-Asian student studying in Germany. A former flight attendant for a major airline, he made the decision to go to university later than most and is due to graduate with degree which could give him access to 28 job markets across the EU, as well as skills in German and Dutch.

Gill is a 72-year-old pensioner living in France. She and her husband moved there when they retired 14 years ago and have settled in well with their local community. They have French and British friends and love living there.

Both Alex and Gill represent different aspects of the British expat experience in Europe. And both share the same anxieties about what the future holds for them and other Brits after the EU referendum on 23rd June.

At 2.2 million the UK’s expat community across Europe is roughly equivalent to a city the size of Manchester. That’s no small number but only a tiny part of the monumental headache any British government would have to deal with when negotiating any post-Brexit settlement.

Since David Cameron got his deal in Brussels and announced the date of the referendum we have seen a lot more discussion about what could happen to the rights, benefits and residency status of Brits living in EU countries. But we must remember that much of this is speculative: no one knows for certain what will happen if Britain chooses to leave the EU.  

So the only way expats can be 100% sure of their pension and healthcare rights (to name but two)  is to vote ‘remain’ on 23rd June. It is that simple.

This means that expats who can still vote should register for a proxy or postal vote as soon as possible. Only 109,000 British expats voted to register for the General Election in 2015. And that’s the global figure. Not the EU one.  

George Cunningham, pictured outside the UK Parliament. Photo: Private

The Electoral Commission reports that there has been some increase in registration recently. But much more is needed. Registering now is particularly crucial because it was only a year ago that many of our members told us they couldn’t vote in the General Election due to administrative problems and cock-ups by local councils. 

Furthermore, expats who have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years should continue to make a fuss and urge family and friends to vote ‘remain’; if not for them then to secure the right for Brits to study, work and retire across the EU in future. Voting in the EU referendum is a once in a generation decision and one that will have an impact on our all our family and friends for years to come.

And finally, for many expats (both in the EU and worldwide) anxiety over referendum is about much more than self-interest. We experience daily what it means to live in the international community and the values and benefits that this brings. It’s no surprise, therefore that the Liberal Democrats have called their campaign #INtogether.

Story continues below…

With the polls as tight as they are, expats who care about their future and Britain’s place in the world must register to vote as soon as possible. Every vote will count and expats may well hold the balance.

George Cunningham is Chair of Brits Abroad: Yes to Europe, an expat campaign group to keep Britain in the EU. It is a non-partisan get out the vote initiative run by the Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats. managed by the Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats. The campaign has a Facebook page with up-to-date news about the debate on: https://www.facebook.com/BritsAbroadYestoEurope/


For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

Austrian policeman sentenced over 'Heil Hitler' salute
Photo: Flickr

A policeman in Austria was sentenced on Thursday for shouting "Heil Hitler" at a driver during a traffic check at the Hungarian border in April.

Scary clown craze endangers crucial work of clown 'doctors'
Photo: Bojan Tavcar

Within the last couple weeks, disturbing events involving masked individuals has caught public attention in Austria.

Chimney sweep rescues lost mushroom picker
Photo: James Lindsey/Wikimedia

A 76-year-old Austrian man who went out mushroom picking almost froze to death after getting lost and spending the night in the forest.

Refugees sold into forced prostitution
File photo: UNHCR

Female refugees are being sold into forced prostitution in Austria, a police investigation into human trafficking has found.

Driverless bus takes a spin around Salzburg's old town
The Arma driverless shuttle bus. Photo: Navya

A driverless minibus has made a test journey in the city of Salzburg.

No jail time for asylum seeker who dumped baby in road
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A man who grabbed his own child and dumped her in the middle of a busy road has been given a nine-month suspended sentence.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available