With just a few weeks left to go before the EU Referendum on June 23rd, the latest polls seem to be showing that the vote is going to be very close indeed. Many expats here in France confess to not being totally aware of what would actually happen if Britain left the EU and there is some evidence to suggest the feeling may be the same for many in the UK.
Many expats here in France confess to not being totally aware of what would actually happen if Britain left the EU.
As for the French, it seems that as a general rule, they would like us to stay, but would doubtless not lose any sleep if we didn’t. The party that would be most pleased by a Brexit would of course be Marine Le Pen’s National Front Party. A Brexit would be good news for the National Front Party’s plans at home in France. Le Pen should not be written off as anything other than a real threat to Hollande’s government for the next presidential elections in France.
Word on the street in our part of France, amongst our expat friends, reveals that, unsurprisingly, by far the greatest majority would like Britain to stay in the EU. The advantages of staying, they mostly feel, far outweigh the advantages of leaving, not least in terms of healthcare in France and the reciprocal arrangement with Britain, the right to have British pensions paid directly into French bank accounts, and so on. Another good point was made to us the other day regarding our children’s future freedom to live and work in any European country. What would happen to border control for us Brits wishing, say, to spend a year in Barcelona or Berlin? Would it be as easy to apply for a job in, say, Berlin, as it is now? Do we really want to vote out and make life more difficult for our children and children’s children?
Of course nobody knows exactly what will happen if Britain leaves the EU, and whatever does happen will probably take years to be implemented. Nevertheless, the general feeling among expats is that we should stay in – and as I write, we find many of our friends here hurrying to place their vote before it is too late. We are told that every vote truly counts this time; and lethargy has no place in this Referendum! The truth is that no-one can really predict the practical outcome of the vote until it happens – and indeed, probably until quite a time after it has happened. The debate goes on…