The Brexit referendum is just four weeks away at the time of this writing, and many British expats in Spain, Portugal, France and elsewhere are deeply worried about what it means for them. British expats in France, for example, are wondering if it’s time to sell property in France. So what’s really going to happen on June 23? Should you be concerned?
First, let us be clear that nobody really knows or can tell what’s going to happen on June 23. There is no uniformity among the opinion polls on Brexit. Some suggest that the “leave” campaign would win, while other opinion polls say that the winds are in favour of the “remain” campaign.
The Ipsos MORI poll found that the the ‘remain’ campaign has an overwhelming 18 percent lead over the ‘leave’ campaign. The YouGov survey agrees and found that the ‘remain’ has 44 percent support while the ‘leave’ campaign has a support of 40 percent – a much slender lead.
There are other polls that suggest the very opposite. The TNS survey found the ‘leave’ campaign to be dominant, getting the backing of 41 percent of respondents against 38 percent who supported ‘remain.’
Another pollster, ICM actually did two surveys, one by phone and one online and surprisingly, both had very different results. In the online poll, 47 percent of respondents backed the “leave” campaign ad only 43 percent supported “remain. But in the telephone poll, an exact number, 47 percent supported the “remain” campaign and only 39 percent backed “leave”.
Clearly, this goes to show that even the pollsters are confused about whether there is really going to be Brexit, or not. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen on June 23. The question is should you really be concerned about the outcome of the referendum?
Both the “leave” and “remain” campaigns have made many claims that are not really true. The “leave” campaign has said that Britain sends £350m a week to Brussels, money that could be better spent here in the UK, on schools and hospitals. What they don’t tell you is that Britain gets EU grants of £230m/week as well, much of which goes to the farmers in the country.
The “remain” campaign has been guilty of exaggerating as well. Prime Minister David Cameron made the claim recently that Britain leaving the EU would make the world less safe and even hinted at a possible World War 2 like situation in the continent.
That’s not true at all, as conflicts exist between every EU member state. Germany and Greece, for example, have had a long-standing feud and don’t really like each other. Anti-German sentiment is alive and well in many EU nations. It is unlikely that Britain leaving the EU will change the politics of the continent in any significant manner.
But really, nobody has been able to give an accurate idea of the impact of Brexit on Europe and on Britain. Not even the British government, the World Bank or IMF have been able to make a single credible forecast on the impact of Brexit over an average household over the next 6 months, or 6 years.
We are in an unchartered territory. It is possible that Brexit could change everything about Europe, and it is also likely that nothing would change, things would remain just the same as they have always been. But there is no question that a vast majority of British expats would be pinning their hopes on the “remain” campaign winning the referendum.
There is every reason to believe that the average Brit is a conservative, which means they go with what their head says rather than what the heart says. That’s why it is possible that the “remain” campaign has a slight advantage. But you never know, and we are not in the business of making forecasts. So, let’s just wait for June 23!