5 Million Brits live outside the UK, more than 2 million in Europe. Only 206,000 were registered to vote in 2015. Britons Abroad need to make their mark
A Referendum will be held in Britain on 23 June and it will determine whether the UK stays in the European Union (EU) or not. If the vote is to exit from Europe, this will be the so-called ‘Brexit’.
This Referendum is to determine the opinion of the people. The UK joined as a Member of the European Union (originally called the European Community) 44 years ago as a result of a Referendum.1
The EU was founded by France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and Italy, all countries devastated by two World Wars. One of the core principles of the Treaty of Rome- which was then reaffirmed in all subsequent Treaties- was the preservation of peace.2 That’s why the Berlin wall came down and why our children will be safe.
You really should register by 16 May if you want to vote and to allow the arrangements to be made.
Why is this Referendum important?
It is the biggest constitutional question of a generation. It will determine the rights of British people in their dealings with other European countries and will alter international relationships and trade agreements.
Britain has been part of the European Union for so long (44 years) that most of us don’t know anything else. It will affect us all.
Will this really affect those of us who live in Spain?
Yes, as well as all the 2 million and more British citizens who live within the other countries of the European Union. We will no longer automatically have the rights of a European Citizen (as we do now).
So it will really affect us?
No-one is very sure yet. This has never happened before. There are many ideas and different opinions but it will affect us because (see below). That’s why we need to vote! Who can vote?
1. British citizens who have holiday homes in Spain (or elsewhere in the EU) but who still have a house or an apartment somewhere in Britain will be able to vote in the constituency where their British home is.
2. British citizens who have lived (at a permanent address) in Spain for less than 15 years can vote, but must first register to vote. You can start this registration on www.aboutmyvote.co.uk You will need to have to hand your last address or postcode, your passport number and your National Insurance number. You will need to decide how you want to cast your vote: postal vote, proxy vote or (by travelling to the UK for 23 June) in person.
3. If you registered to vote in the 2015 General Election then you must update your registration with the Town Hall in your last constituency (see below).
4. If you have lived outside Britain for more than 15 years you have had your vote taken away. You cannot
register and so cannot vote.
When is the deadline to register to vote?
The voter registration deadline for the EU referendum is 7 June 2016. The actual vote takes place on 23 June 2016. However, the Electoral Commission is advising overseas voters to register as soon as possible –ideally by 16 May– to allow them enough time to complete the overseas voting process and to ensure that you have your postal or proxy vote in time to vote.
I registered for the 2015 General Election, am I still registered?
Yes but you must renew it! You have to renew your registration or you will not be able to vote in the EU referendum – you can do this by filling in the same form as you did before for, or by contacting your local Electoral Registration Office to request that your registration is renewed.
How do I register for the first time since moving abroad, so that I can to vote?
Your post code or the last address you had in the UK
What do I do if I don’t have a National Insurance number?
If you don’t have a National Insurance number, or if you cannot be identified using your National Insurance number, you can still register, but you may have to supply more information to show who you are- including having another British person living abroad to verify your identity. See http://vote-eu-referendum.com
The form asks how I want to cast my vote. What do I do? You can choose how you wish to vote. You can vote by postal ballot or by proxy (by choosing someone you trust to vote on your behalf). And if you happen to be in the UK on the date of the vote for the EU Referendum, you can always vote in person at the polling station in the constituency where you were last registered. Note that, particularly if you choose to vote by postal ballot, the Electoral Commission recommends that you register as soon as possible – ideally by 16 May – to ensure that the postal ballot has time to arrive at your address by post and you have sufficient time to send it back in time to vote in the election.
Tips and hints
– Registration is online but the paperwork must still go backwards and forwards by post. Register now to leave time.
– Post back to Britain needs proper Spanish postage or a European pre-paid envelope. Pre-paid envelopes, which are English, are not valid and will not work. You need to check.
– There will be a cut off date for registration. This is 7 June. After that you cannot vote!
What does Membership of the EU give us?
– As Brits we have freedom to travel, work and live anywhere in the EU with minimal bureaucracy (often none) and minimal cost.
– It has facilitated British qualifications being accepted across the EU.
– It allows young people (and the older ones) to travel around Europe and move without restriction.
– It has protected us from punitive taxation.
– It has given pensioners a reciprocal health provision. The British government pays Spain an annual sum for pensioner health care because Britain is part of the EU.
– It has protected British state pensions. We must receive the annual increments just as if we lived in Britain.
Will life be different for us if Britain leaves the EU?
– Yes. We will no longer be European citizens. The technical phrase is ‘we will become aliens without an automatic right to live in Spain (or other EU country)’.
– Yes. Pensioners would no longer receive state healthcare.
– Yes. The British government could (and probably would) freeze pensions so there would be no annual increments.
– Yes. In Spain we would be charged more in various taxes (like the higher rate of capital gains tax when you sell your villa or apartment).
I’m not a pensioner. I am young with a family. Will it affect me?
We do not know for sure, but you may well need to have a permit to live here and it could affect your rights to live as you are at the moment. Young people across feel differently about living here.. See www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntyHkkW8Izo&utm_content=buffer9f963&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
I’ve read lots of things about Europe. How can I check to see if they are true
– There are various websites run by independent organisations, which are not part of lobbying and campaigning groups. For example www.infacts.org