In less than a week, we (British people) are going to vote in a most important election that will not only affect the United Kingdom, but that of its neighbours’ – members of the European Union (the EU) too.
If you’re a British expat living abroad within the last 15 years, you should have registered as an overseas elector. This entitles you to vote in the UK Parliamentary General Elections, UK – wide referendums, and European Parliamentary elections. The deadline for registering to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June has passed.
For more information on overseas voting, please go here.
Indeed, as the local British expert on socio-political things topics concerning Britain and the UK, I have been regularly solicited. In fact, this week, I was so booked-up, I even had to turn down a few requests!
I was asked to participate in a short TV report on the 5th wedding anniversary of William & Kate for the European Culture Euromaxx programme of Deutsche Welle TV. I talked about the image of the monarchy and their role as a modern couple. Deutsche Welle (DW) TV is a bit like the BBC, but made to promote German culture instead!
They really liked my part and sent me the link, but it was a busy time in my office so I hadn’t realized that it would only be available for a week, before it disappeared!
Sadly, I haven’t got a record of it and I was wearing my pink polka-dotted trench coat too!
Not long after, one of the Editors of FOCUS Magazin contacted me. She had seen my blog, and wanted to get my views on how British people living in Germany were feeling about the referendum.
The Magazine is based in Munich, so she interviewed me over the phone.
I was contacted by a reporter from the German Radio Station rbb Inforadio (ARD), who was doing a report about the Brexit discussion leading up to the referendum.
I had worked with the rbb station before so I was very happy to work with them again.
She wanted to meet me in person to do the interview and in fact, used to live in my Berlin gentrified neighbourhood!
We went to a French restaurant nearby, and over a few glasses of red wine, she whipped out her microphone and interviewed me!
Last week, I was contacted by many other media organisations but I was only able to accept a few because….drum roll pleeeeeease!
It’s a very busy time right now, so they’re going to ring me at home, and you’ll be able to hear me (pretty much LIVE), and speaking in German!
It’ll be broadcast on Monday morning (20.06.16) at 09:35!
But the most exciting biggest news of all, is that I was invited to join in a documentary by a well-known British standup / comedian, for a famous British TV station!
I can’t say more than that, except that I’m really thrilled!
I’ll be talking about Brexit and how it affects British expats living in Germany and Europe.
Now that I’ve told you what I’ve been up to, let’s get down to the serious stuff:
WHAT IS BREXIT ALL ABOUT?
Brexit is a shorthand way of referring to a possible British exit from the EU. It is a word that merges “Britain” and “Exit” thus creating “Brexit” similar to the term “Grexit,” which was used to refer to the possibility that Greece might leave the Eurozone.
WHAT IS A REFERENDUM?
A referendum is a vote in which anyone of voting age can take part, normally giving a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast, is considered to have won.
WHY ARE WE HAVING A BREXIT REFERENDUM IN THE FIRST PLACE?
David Cameron – the British Prime Minister – promised to make this happen if he won the 2015 general election.
This act was in a response to the “European question in British politics,” reduced influence in European rules and regulations, and agitated calls from members of his own political party – the Conservatives – and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a real say about issues since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU, in a referendum at the time!
WHEN IS THE EU REFERENDUM TAKING PLACE?
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE UK VOTES FOR BREXIT?
It’s difficult to say as nobody seems to know the details!
HAS ANY MEMBER STATE EVER LEFT THE EU?
No nation-state has ever left the EU. Except for Greenland – an overseas territory of Denmark!
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS THINK?
Most Economists believe that leaving the EU would be a fatal damaging step for the British economy.
However, some experts think that technically, it would be possible for Britain to leave the EU, thus removing the right for the free movement of EU citizens, whilst at the same time retaining access to the EU single trade market. Other experts believe that the UK could follow the Norwegian initiative which is not to be a member state of the European Union (EU), but to have a close association through membership in the European Economic Area (EEA), or like Switzerland, which is not a member state of the European Union either! In this case, relations between Switzerland and the European Union are framed by a series of bilateral treaties that allow Switzerland to participate in trading agreements.
In short, having our cake and eating it!
WHO CAN VOTE IN THE UK’s EU REFERENDUM?
Anybody who is a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen (including Australia, Canada, India, and 48 other Commonwealth nations who are living in the UK), citizens of British overseas territories, such as the Falkland Islands, Bermuda or Gibraltar, and “special” EU citizens from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, over the age of 18 and resident in the UK. Expat British people can also vote, if they are UK nationals who have lived abroad for less than 15 years.
HOW DO YOU VOTE?
If you have registered to vote, you’ll be sent a card telling you when voting takes place and where you should go to vote on June 23rd. On that day, when you go to the polling station you will be given a piece of paper with the referendum question on it. You then go to a booth, which will have a pencil in it for your use. You then put a X in the box which reflects your choice, and put the paper into a ballot box. Alternatively, you would have been able to opt to vote by post.
WHY SHOULD BRITAIN STAY IN THE EU?
Britain is important. What we do or don’t do, matters.
Moreover, being a part of the EU gives Britain a boost in almost every way. We’re able to do business in the “single market,” we would be able to attract the best minds all over the world, who complement our economic prosperity, as well as our social future in the guise of helping to pay and provide for public services. To stay in the EU is to receive a big boost in reciprocal membership.
It’s simple really.
If we’re in the European Union, we have a say on what goes on within – economically, socially, and politically. We’ll be a secure part of one of the best clubs in the world – a 28-nation club exclusively set up to protect and look out for each other.
At a time of extreme danger to our way of life, and an increase in terrorism, we need the EU.
If we opt to leave the Union, then as an island nation. We’ll be out. Alone.
And really isolated from the rest of the Continent.
WHY SHOULD BRITAIN LEAVE THE EU?
According to the latest opinion polls, the British public are fairly evenly split.
Some people believe that Britain is being held back by the EU, which they say imposes too many rules on business, and charges huge amounts of money, for little in return. They also want Britain to take back full control of its borders, and reduce the number of people coming to live and/or work, as one of the main principles of EU membership is free movement within member or associated member states. They also don’t like the idea of an “ever closer union,” and what they see as the beginning of a movement towards the creation of a “United States of Europe.”
WHAT ABOUT BUSINESS?
Business is generally in favour of Britain staying within the EU, due to the ease and flexibility to move people, products, and finance structures, around the world.
On the other hand, there are some business agencies who favour negotiating trade deals with individual countries, “rather than being one of 28 nations.” Many small and medium-sized firms would also welcome a cut in red tape and “petty regulations.”
SO WHO’S CAMPAIGNING?
BRITAIN STRONGER IN EUROPE: The main cross-party group campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU is headed by former Marks and Spencer (M&S) Chairman Lord Rose. Influential backing also includes Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne, the Lib Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Alliance party, the SDLP in Northern Ireland, and the Green Party.
LABOUR IN FOR BRITAIN: Headed by the party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Alan Johnson, and supported by most Labour MPs.
REMAIN: The Scottish National Party (SNP) is running its own Remain campaign in Scotland, as it does not want to share a platform with the Conservatives. Several smaller groups have also registered to campaign.
VOTE LEAVE: A cross-party campaign that has the backing of senior Conservatives such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, plus a handful of Labour MPs, including Gisela Stuart and Graham Stringer, the UKIP’s Douglas Carswell and Suzanne Evans, and the DUP in Northern Ireland. Former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson and SDP founder Lord Owen, are also involved.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage is not part of Vote Leave, but his party is running its own campaign.
OUT: The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition is also running its own out campaign.
FARMERS FOR BRITAIN
MUSLIMS FOR BRITAIN
OUT and PROUD.
All three are affiliated groups that are anti – EU.
IF THE UK LEFT THE EU, WOULD UK CITIZENS NEED SPECIAL PERMITS TO WORK IN THE EU?
If the UK remained within the single market, it would almost certainly retain free movement rights allowing UK citizens to work in the EU, and vice versa. If the government opted to impose work permit restrictions, then other countries could reciprocate, meaning British people would have to apply for visas in order to work in Europe.
IF THE UK LEFT THE EU, HOW WOULD THIS AFFECT EU NATIONALS WHO WANT TO WORK IN THE UK?
Again, it depends!
If the UK government decided to introduce a work permit system of the kind that currently applies to non-EU citizens, limiting entry to skilled workers in professions where there are shortages, then EU nations would most likely reciprocate, and do the same.
HOW LONG WOULD ALL THE PAPERWORK TAKE?
The minimum period after a vote to leave, would be two years.
During that time Britain would continue to abide by EU treaties and laws, but not take part in any decision-making. In practice it would probably take longer than two years, depending on how negotiations would go.
IF THE UK LEFT THE EU, WOULD IT BE ABLE TO REJOIN IN THE FUTURE?
The UK would have to start from scratch with no rebate, and enter in to accession talks with the EU, and every member state would have to agree to the UK re-joining! However, the issue of UK demands which Britain has now, would not be put into consideration.
WHEN DID THE UK JOIN THE EU?
The UK joined the European Economic Community (the forerunner of the EU), on January 1st, 1973.
WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?
The European Union – otherwise known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving twenty-eight (28) European countries!
The idea of fostering economic co-operation, began with the Second World War notion that countries that trade together, are more likely to avoid going to war with one another!
Since then, the EU has grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, as if the member states were one country. The EU has its own currency – the euro – which is used by nineteen (19) of the member countries, its own parliament, and it’s own laws, rules and regulations. With a GDP of more than $18,000 billion, and a population of more than 500m, the EU is the largest economy in the world!
WHAT IS THE SINGLE MARKET?
The European Union single market, developed in 1992, allows the free movement of goods, services, money, and people, within the European Union, as if it were a single country.
The idea was to boost trade, create jobs, and lower prices. However, it requires a common law to ensure products are made to the same technical standards and level of quality and expectation. Critics say it generates too many petty regulations, and robs members of control over their own nations. Other critics state mass migration (free movement) as having been abused by poorer East European countries who flock to wealthier West European nations.
I think you know my answer to that, and I’ll be in the German media throughout the week discussing it!
This article is not sponsored, and all opinions connected to this most important referendum, are my very own!
From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.
Save the Date!
June is going to be outrageous darling!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in June, you must be out of your mind!
Watch this space!