British expats across Europe are waiting for the result of a High Court case claiming the government has no right to stop thousands of them voting in the upcoming Brexit referendum.
Expats who left Britain more than 15 years ago are barred from voting in the UK but many across the European Union are concerned about how a Brexit vote might leave them marooned.
Although the government has promised to lift the ban before the end of the Parliament, expats want a say in the referendum because of the impact a leave vote could have on their lives.
Two expats leading the campaign to vote have challenged the government’s decision in the High Court.
If they win the case, the referendum for June 23 may have to be cancelled to give expats time to register for the poll.
The judges in the case have listened to a day of evidence and reserved judgment.
No date has been set for the result, but the judges have said this will be ‘as soon as possible’.
Expats worried about ‘leave’ referendum win
A recent survey by leading expat financial adviser deVere Group claims two thirds of expats are worried about the outcome of the referendum.
The research found thousands of expats are worried about the effect Brexit would have on their pensions, healthcare rights in the EU and other issues like residence and work permits.
The UK government has no figures on how many British expats live in the EU, but estimates put the figure at between 1.2 million and 2 million.
“While surveys show that the Leave and Remain campaigns are currently pretty neck and neck amongst voters in the UK, this expat poll comes down firmly on one side,” said Nigel Green, the chief executive of deVere Group.
“This is perhaps unsurprising as the possibility of Britain leaving the EU could potentially impact the lives of British expats in Europe more than it does those who live in the UK.”
Brexit bad for expat finances
Green explained that a Brexit is not good financially for expats with assets in the Britain.
“Should Britain leave the EU, expect Sterling to weaken considerably against the Euro. Gilt prices are likely to fall and yields rise as inflation creeps in due to the weaker Pound,” said Green.
“This would lead to higher mortgage rates even if the Bank of England leaves rates and policy unchanged. House prices would fall, triggered by buy to letters wanting to sell rather than roll-over more expensive mortgages.
“On the stock market, small and mid-cap stocks will underperform as they don’t have the export earnings that save FTSE 100 stocks from a wave of investor.”