Monday, August 21, 2017
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UK Referendum on Europe

The UK has been a member of the European Union, and its predecessor the EEC, since 1973. What will a referendum on 23 June mean for UK Nationals in Portugal?

UK citizens living in Portugal, or any other EU country, enjoy the freedom of movement that being a member of the EU gives us. We can travel, live and work freely in any EU state without the need for visas and the time limitations that apply to none EU Nationals.

David Cameron (UK Prime Minister) declared on 20 February 2016 that he will hold a Referendum on staying in the EU on 23 June 2016. He promised this if the Conservatives were re-elected in the last General Election, by the end of 2017, but after talks with the other EU members on changes the UK wants, he is ready to go to the polls. He has declared that staying in the EU is the best option for the UK. The cabinet has been splint into 'OUT' and 'IN' sides, with the majority of Conservatives staying with the 'IN' campaign. 

What will it mean if the UK leaves the EU?

If the result of the referendum  is against the EU as many people in the UK seem to want, then Cameron could withdraw the UK fully from the European Union. What will this mean for Expats? It would mean that we would no longer be EU Nationals, we would only be UK Nationals. This could severely restrict our rights of movement within Portugal and any other EU country.

If you have not yet registered to vote in UK General Elections then do so now if you want to have your vote registered in the referendum. Voting can be done in person, by post or by proxy.

Every British citizen who has been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years is eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary (general) elections, Referendums and European Parliamentary elections.

There are around 3.1 million British citizens known to be living in Europe, but there are many, many more that are not registered as overseas residents. Whether you are or not you need to make sure that your vote counts, if the are still registered at a UK address then you can request a proxy vote so that someone else can vote for you.

If you were too young to register when you left the UK, you can still register as an overseas voter so long as your parent or guardian was registered to vote in the UK, providing you left the UK no more than 15 years ago.

About My Vote is the website of The Electoral Commission in the UK. They have all the information about How to Register to Vote for Overseas Residents and you can download the form you need to submit to the UK council where you last lived.

Don't wait.....Don't think it will not happen.....There is a good chance that Portugal and the UK would come up with a special agreement but travel through the rest of the EU will still be restricted and anyone reading this from other EU countries needs to realise that only Portugal has the special relationship with the UK as they have been allied for centuries.

Anyone in Spain should seriously consider voting, especially as Spanish - UK relations over Gibraltar have been strained in recent year, don't expect any special treatment.


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