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To expect to have the opportunity to vote in the EU referendum

(99 Posts)
Mistigri Sun 10-May-15 06:36:09

I'm British living abroad in the EU. As things stand I don't expect to get a vote in the EU referendum - the Tory right will fiercely resist enfranchising both 16 and 17 year olds, and expats.

AIBU to believe that the estimated 2-3 million British people who have taken advantage of free movement within the EU should get the right to vote on this issue?

(I don't have or expect a vote in general elections btw, as a general rule I don't believe that people who are tax-resident elsewhere should have the right to choose a government that doesn't affect them directly.)

NRomanoff Sun 10-May-15 06:55:03

I don't know, why don't you qualify to vote in the GE?

Do 16 and 17 year olds normally get vote in a referendum?

NRomanoff Sun 10-May-15 06:57:10

I know they lowered the voting age for the Scottish one but is that usual?

Seems strange they can vote in a referendum, but not in a ge.

fortunately Sun 10-May-15 07:00:15

God I would absolutely want a vote as an expat!

We'd be massively affected by a no vote, far more so than most UK citizens.

Mistigri Sun 10-May-15 07:04:00

I've been abroad too long to qualify to vote in a GE (cut off is 15 years).

It depends on the referendum registration criteria of course, but I fully expect the eurosceptic right to fight for strict residence criteria, knowing that most british people living and working in continental european countries will vote to remain in the EU (and that this group is disproportionately likely to vote).

TheColdDoesBotherMeAnyway Sun 10-May-15 07:04:37

It'll probably work the other way too - dh is French and is assuming he won't get a vote (he can vote in local and European elections but not a general election).

I'm quite frankly terrified of a yes vote - we looked into citizenship when the results came in on Friday and it costs over £1000; and his job depends on European money.

RolodexOfHate Sun 10-May-15 07:05:08

Why don't you have a vote in general elections? As far as I know all expats can vote.

Mistigri Sun 10-May-15 07:07:15

rolodex no, there is a cut off after 15 years

But registration for the referendum will likely be a separate process anyway, as in Scotland.

NRomanoff Sun 10-May-15 07:07:45

I would imagine that if DC can make it so citizens living abroad can vote he will. I don't think DC wants to leave. Since most expats would vote no, I think it would be in his interests to include you.

fortunately Sun 10-May-15 07:08:45

I'd be fucked if we had a yes vote. Worse case scenario is I'd lose my dd (divorced, she's dual nationality and I don't qualify for long term residence).

Plus I'd probably lose my job, which is dependent on EU trade and migrant workers.

SilverBlur Sun 10-May-15 07:09:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fortunately Sun 10-May-15 07:11:19

If she's still a British citizen, she should have the right to vote. Doesn't matter how long you've been away.

Mistigri Sun 10-May-15 07:17:10

fortunately we would be OK for permanent residence, but I still remember the bureaucratic nightmare that was being an immigrant before 1999. We'd presumably have to apply for visas and residence permits (or get citizenship - but I still feel British, and don't personally have any particular desire for a second passport).

It would also massively affect my (FTSE 100) employer, as a large manufacturer and exporter.

NRomanoff Sun 10-May-15 07:53:05

I feel a bit weird about the 15 year rule.

I do think people who haven't lived or paid tax here for years should not get a vote in the GE.

But in the EU referendum, it does directly effect them, so possibly it should

Would expats all have to apply for citizenship in the country of residence before the vote?

If we voted to leave, would it be a case of them all coming home? Surely we wouldn't just turf out all EU citizens back to the country they are still a citizen of?

I can't really get my head round how it will work.

fortunately Sun 10-May-15 07:58:42

The are a few different possibilities.

1. We'd stay in the EEA and migration would be unaffected

2. We wouldn't stay in the EEA but we'd negotiate an agreement on free or almost free migration

3. We wouldn't negotiate an agreement and UK migrants would be subject to the same rules as eg US and Canadian migrants. The most obvious change would be the requirement for a language test and they'd need visas.

4. Residents of over 5 years could apply for long term residents permit to allow them to stay.

5. Because of the change in trade tariffs etc a lot of migrants would lose their jobs anyway and have to return to the UK.

6. Some people, due to their individual circumstances, would fall through the gaps and these people would be fucked.

7. Pensioner migrants may not be able to claim their UK pension whilst abroad and have to return.

NRomanoff Sun 10-May-15 08:02:14

I am firmly in the 'No' camp and don't have relatives abroad, so not really looked into in in detail. So Thank you fortunately.

I would like to see change but leaving does not seem like a good thing. lots of research to do.

ToBeeOrNot Sun 10-May-15 08:29:57

I think in the Scottish referendum resident EU nationals got a vote so would expect similar criteria here TheColdDoesBotherMeAnyway

AiCee Sun 10-May-15 08:31:53

Why don't you have a vote in general elections? As far as I know all expats can vote.

Not all of us are expats, there are a significant chunk of us, myself included, who are economic migrants. We don't all live in flashy villas in Chianti-shire. In fact I think we more lowly types are probably in the majority based on my 26 years of being an ec.mig.

Any there is a cut off for voting, currently 15 years, used to be longer. Which probably isn't a bad thing having seen the extent to which a long gone and large diaspora can create conditions they will never have to live with.

But it does kind of suck that we get to live with potentially "life shock" style results where not only do we not get a voice, precious few seem to even realise we exist in the numbers we do.

I can get citizenship. My husband of 2 decades guarantees me that. And the mini tri-colore waver I made with my very own body sort of helps. God help the people without such leg ups. Which is most of the people I know and have known. And god help Britain if it sleep walks into creating a raft of a million plus displaced, newly unemployed, newly rootless people forced home against their will and best interests.

It's not just the logistics, it's not just the cost of supporting them post forced move. A massive import of people who are justifiably furious and/or in turmoil typically does not do a nation a whole heap of good. Throwing money at the problem will only go so far. There is an emotional and mental impact that can echo on for a very long time as a simmering form of resentment. It's one thing to get booted by ".the others" , but kicked in the knackers by your own ? Different, smellier, more toxic kettle of fish. Not least cos you have to wander among the people who sledgehammered the life you built for yourself, all day everyday.

I think there is some mis-informed idea that if Britain just kicks out all the EU immigrants the housing, education/health resources, jobs etc will get shared out between the residents of an area and an easing will take place. But that can't happen if you replace reluctant out-goer with reluctant incomer. And the numbers are pretty much even Stephens.

You may also have to get used to not nice stories from the EU of your com-patriots, who had no say in any of this, bearing the brunt. Because the EU has it's fair share of short sighted, hard of thinking idiots too. I stand out like a sore thumb with my accent. I know there are dickheads here. I see them in the piazza every Sunday with their stupid slogan smothered gazebos and fucked up logic. I worry for my teenage son, the lone half-Brit in a town... that could see a chunk of people forced back home with children in tow that have never lived here and are in shock, with a need to take it out on somebody.

The ramifications of this have a human face, and potentially go well beyond the limits that some people will entertain as they weigh things up.

AuntieStella Sun 10-May-15 08:36:08

The eligibility criteria for the referendum won't have even been considered yet, but a I think you're right to expect them to be pretty much the same as general election criteria.

And the 15 year cut off has (IIRC) very high acceptance/approval so I don't think it would change.

And yes, I agree that the choice made by UK could have a massive impact on those outside UK. But that's just like the way choice was offered to the Scots irrespective of the impact it would have outside Scotland, and only those living in Scotland had the vote. I expect that precedent to stand (SNP will definitely want it to).

WorriedMutha Sun 10-May-15 08:42:37

Nobody talked about the Scots who live in England having a vote in the Scottish Referendum and there certainly wasn't any suggestion that there would be any repatriation of Scots to Scotland in the event of a pro independence win. For God's sake calm down. The expat community in Europe are largely self funding and contributing to the local economy. This is surely just a scaremongering thread.

drspouse Sun 10-May-15 08:49:11

Scots who lived outside the UK and who were still registered in their home constituency voted in the Scottish referendum. My cousin went abroad to study and registered for a postal vote. I imagine she annoyed a lot of Scots studying in England.

tobysmum77 Sun 10-May-15 08:56:17

I think yabu tbh.

There was quite a lot of conversation pre referendum about whether Scots living in England should be allowed to vote actually.

AiCee Sun 10-May-15 10:03:19

The expat community in Europe are largely self funding and contributing to the local economy. This is surely just a scaremongering thread.

Expat is a lexical fig leaf. Used a lot to draw a line of distinction between "scummy economic migrants" and "naice people". Expat will be plonked on me by distinction of being British. Yet a Pole with a degree (compared to my four poxy O levels) and a career (compared to my 2.5 decades of self employed, often quite precarious TEFLing) will be plonked in the economic migrant box.

That linguistic gymnastics is no reflection of reality. It's just a game of delusion to better fit one's own sense of inate superiority. It's time to retire the bugger. You live outside the country of your birth full time, you are an immigrant. You moved for economic motives, you are an economic migrant. "Expat" as it is currently used should die with the Empire.

Or we could retire immigrant/economic migrant and call everybody "expat".

But one, or the other. Enough of this two tiered system that is based on nothing more substantial than national arrogance and othering. If we want to define between differing types of immigrants and understand the what, where, who, why, when we need something more useful in terms of data than "are you from an anglophone country old chap? or just the "right kind" of white ?"

Its use has created a nationalistic blindness. Britons living in EU other are a diverse bunch. It's not all pensioners who burn money as entertainment and air kissing in Chianti-shire types not all are self funding

Many many more Britons will stop being self funding if they lose their jobs where they are now, because they will lose the right to live and work where they have built a life. And Britain has a welfare system that plenty of countries they are leaving do not. So... some in their post-rug-pulled-from-under-me state, released from the do-or-die reality of "no comparable safety net", will languish on state funds as they peer from the rubble of what they had built for themselves.

Here's a thought. How about instead of just guessing and doing little bits of research, before a referendum is announced Britian takes steps to thoughly investigate its diaspora and understand its make up before blithely assuming most of us will get to stay, and even if we don't our "large cushions of money" will mean the state doesn't have to mop up the fall out and it's all basically no harm, no foul. If we really are that homogenous and well off, should be a pretty easy task, so not so onerous a request in terms of "just to be on the safe side".

Think if you do, you are in for a shock.

I am an economic migrant. I left to have a crack at the whip at earning enough to live on. Because Britain could not offer me that. Twice.

I am far far far from lonely in my British economic migrant box.

Even if the bulk of my box dwellers do insist on using the term expat to self describe.

If it is scaremongering, show me where millions have been forced to give up everything they have worked for in terms of creating a stable life for themselves and their families, and then had it ripped away via a repatriation they did not freely chose, and everything was just fine with no upset, no negative ramifications, no long standing/large scale resentments, no international bad feeling, no unrest and no human cost.

Mistigri Sun 10-May-15 10:29:38

There is a genuine threat to Britons in the EU if the UK were to leave the EU and did not take up EEA membership (which I can't see it doing, as being in the EEA confers the obligation of signing up to free labour movement, and is also a costly way of accessing European free trade).

In most cases working age Britons who have been "regularly resident" for 5 years will be relatively unaffected - they can stay under EU continuous residence rules (I'm not personally concerned about my family's future in Europe). They will have to register with local authorities and may have to obtain a visa and residence permit, but assuming they are willing to jump through some bureaucratic hoops or apply for citizenship they should be OK.

However, the majority of Brits in Europe don't fall into this category, and particularly the very large number of retired people who are reliant on reciprocal healthcare arrangements. If anyone imagines that these would be preserved in the case of an EU exit they are deluding themselves. Most european healthcare systems are insurance based. No contributions or social security number = no health cover. These people should have a chance to cast their vote.

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