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British Expats would pay to retain individual membership to the EU after Brexit

Written on 10 October 2017

A Brexit survey conducted by us around the time of the anniversary of the EU Referendum has revealed that over half of British expats would consider paying for personal membership to the EU.

The responses of 344 British expats located around the world revealed that British Expats believe that Brexit will not only be harmful to their own personal situation, but that it will also be harmful to the UK economy. As a result, 52% of British expats said that they would be willing to pay a fee to maintain their personal membership to the EU (and the rights that accompany EU citizens), only 28% said they wouldn’t with 20% saying they weren’t sure.

Impact of Brexit on finances and the economy

In terms of impact on the economy, 92% of expats felt that the result of the referendum directly led to the fall in the value of Sterling, while 41% of those asked said that they had noticed a decrease in their disposal income and 32% said their income had increased. However, nearly 70% of those asked believed that their personal situation would ultimately get worse once Brexit happens.

Only 17% of expats believe that Brexit would have a positive impact on the economy of the UK.

As a result of the referendum, 68% of expats had given more thought to their financial situation

Impact of Brexit on immigration

The British expats surveyed do not believe that British people living in the EU will be forced to move back to the UK, and they also don’t believe that EU citizens will be forced to leave the UK after Brexit – although the overwhelming belief is that freedom of movement between the UK and the EU will cease because of Brexit.

General feelings towards Brexit

When asked which words they felt summed up their feelings towards the vote to leave the UK, overwhelming negative words were used, with 59% of people being “disappointed”, 25% felt “deceived” by the result and 18% have been left confused. Below is a chart showing the words which people felt reflected their feelings towards Brexit:

brexit expat word chart 800

This ultimately comes as no real surprise as the number of enquiries and interviews which Experts for Expats have been involved in have significantly increased – and despite 15 months passing since the vote, there still seems to be no clear path or plan which is likely to come in once Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

Robert Hallums, Founder of Experts for Expats, was not particularly surprised by the results, “The results of this survey will come as little surprise to many people. While around 17% of British expats supported and continue to support the UK’s departure from the EU, most expats feel that they are being neglected and are clearly unsure what the future holds for them.”

“It seems that, while the Government is releasing statements, the actual plan for what a post-Brexit Britain will look like - as well as a post Britain EU – is still as unclear as ever, and British tax-paying expats feel that their opinions are not being heard by other UK citizens or their government.”

“It’s quite shocking that of the people we asked, over 90% did not even know that there was a section on the UK Government website dedicated to providing information for British people living and travelling within the EU and the impact that Brexit will have on them. The content on that site also underlines the fact that, fundamentally, nothing has actually changed – other than the devaluation of the pound.”

Reactions from British expats on Brexit in general

One leave voter stated: “Whilst voting leave allowed the UK to maintain its ‘so called’ independence from Brussels the negative effects where never articulated by either side of the debate. Losing 10 - 15% of the value of a fixed income (pension) is a hard pill to swallow.”

This respondent seemed to sum up the general feeling of Brexit among British expats, “It’s awful hearing arguments where people are either a ‘brexiter’ or ‘remoaner’. Nobody really understands the impact on either side and so is like electing a government without a manifesto. (I) just hope that by triggering the clause, then more detail will come out and then the discussions can be based on facts rather than some of the more outrageous arguments heard before or since eg. £100's million to NHS or £60 billion bill for us to leave.”

Some also shared the opinion that the General Election in June 2017 weakened the Governments position, with one expat stating “The General Election in June 2017 showed that the Government does not have a mandate for hard Brexit. The "no deal is better than a bad deal" approach is complete craziness. Ideally, they would drop Brexit altogether, although they are unlikely to do that. They must, at the very least, soften their approach to negotiations with the EU, in order to avoid the UK falling off a cliff.”

Finally, it’s impossible to not reference the fact that in neither the EU Referendum nor the 2017 General Election were all British expats given the right to vote which was promised by the Conservatives in their 2015 manifesto. One Expat agreed completely, “(it is a) disgrace that government has still not delivered on 2015 manifesto promise of votes for life legislation” with another agreeing “I think it's a disgrace that UK citizens living abroad for over 15 years … were not eligible to vote in the EU referendum.”