The significant majority of expats are set to vote in favour of staying in the EU, one month out from the referendum, according to latest research. 71% are set to vote to stay in the EU and just 23% will vote to leave. Only 6% are still undecided.
Angloinfo, the world’s leading global expat network, has been researching the opinions of its users to determine how they intend to vote in the forthcoming EU referendum. Despite another month of campaigning by both sides of the Brexit debate, hearts and minds haven’t changed for expats with voting intentions remaining the same since the last poll Angloinfo conducted in April.
More than a third (37%) of expats feel no one has properly explained the pros and cons of remaining in the EU, a view echoed by many of those living in the UK. This perhaps explains why opinions haven’t shifted over the past month.
With an estimated 4.5 million - 5.5 million British expats living abroad, this audience could have a significant impact on the referendum outcome.
The poll of more than 4,500 expats shows that the major driving factor for the ‘stay’ voters is the economic benefit. 84% of expats believe the UK will be economically better off being part of the EU. 74% believe that the UK would have to comply with extra trade rules if it left the EU but still wanted to trade with its members.
Global status is a factor for expats too as 71% of ‘stay’ voters believe the UK is taken more seriously by the rest of the world as part of the EU. 68% think the UK’s national security will be better served in the EU than out.
Particular expat referendum concerns focus on potential changes in the healthcare and pensions provisions, that come with being a member of the EU, such as whether the state pension provisions will be ‘frozen’. Visa concerns and potentially having to apply for residency were also considerations, as were reductions in income if the exchange rate lowered. In fact, the uncertainties are so great that many expats fear they will have to leave their country of residence and return to the UK if it left the EU.
James Jackson, Chief Operating Officer of Angoinfo comments:
“Expats hold strong views on the future of the UK’s EU membership, even if they aren’t eligible to vote. Interestingly long-standing expats who are no longer eligible to vote in the referendum are even more strongly in favour of the UK remaining a member state. This is a significant and engaged audience which both sides of the debate should pay attention to. An ‘out of sight and out of mind’ approach by campaigners would be a mistake, given the very real impact the decision will have on this group, and the influence this audience holds.”
Interestingly the economic argument is also key for expats who will vote to leave, with 68% believing the UK would be economically better off, and 72% seeing leaving the EU as a chance to renegotiate better trade deals. However, being free from EU bureaucracy was the highest chosen benefit (80%) for leaving the EU according to the research. Other perceived benefits include being able to negotiate better deals with non-EU economies (72%), and being able to negotiate improved trade agreements with the EU (30%).
Expats not eligible to vote in the forthcoming referendum also hold strong views. 82% of those not eligible to vote under the current regulations would choose to vote to stay in the EU if given the opportunity. A significant ‘lost vote’ for the ‘stay’ campaign.
The primary voting driver for this group would again be the economic factor with 68% believing it would be in the UK’s best economic interest to remain in the EU.
Being an expat living in the EU has had a positive impact on people’s opinions of it. Only 16% of expats claim that living in the EU has made them less in favour of the UK remaining a member state.