As the 23rd June and the referendum on whether the UK should leave, or remain, in the EU (Brexit) approaches, 100s of 1000s of Brits in Spain are facing uncertainty over what the future may bring.
If you have lived outside the UK for over 15 years, you are ineligible to vote under current voting laws. However, anyone who has lived outside the UK for less than 15 years has until May 16th to register to vote by post or proxy by visiting: www.eureferendum.gov.uk
Why has this referendum come about?
Prime Minister David Cameron committed to holding an in/out referendum by 2017 if he won the 2015 general elections. His Conservative party are famously split over the EU, with big names, such as London Mayor Boris Johnson firmly in the ‘Leave’ camp, whereas Prime Minister David Cameron strongly believes we should stay. No wonder many Brits are confused about what the EU does and whether or not it’s a good thing! In April two groups were recognised as the official ‘in’ and ‘out’ campaigns; Britain Stronger in Europe (www.strongerin.co.uk) and Vote Leave (www.voteleavetakecontrol.org ) respectively.
So what does a ‘Brexit’ mean for Brits in Spain?
There is a great deal of speculation over how leaving would affect us, but it is clear that certain benefits and rights that we enjoy as EU citizens could be threatened, such as the reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Spain and the freedom to live and work in other EU countries. The government hasn’t told us what would happen if we did leave, probably because they don’t really know themselves.
If you are eligible to vote and haven’t made up your mind yet, you can get more, objective information from the following websites: www.bbc.com – The EU referendum: all you need to know www.theweek.co.uk/eu-referendum
A basic guide to the EU and how it works: www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zgjwtyc