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British Expat Newsletter: June 2016

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have recently signed up.

In this issue

This month

There’s one topic of discussion that’s bound to dominate all others this month: Brexit.

The people of the United Kingdom have voted in favour of leaving the European Union.

There’s plenty to argue with in that statement. The maths are quite straightforward: it was a bare majority of those who voted, and they in turn comprised only 72% of the electorate. So in effect you’re looking at a vote of about 37% in favour of leaving. If the referendum had been conducted along the same lines as the failed devolution referenda in Scotland and Wales in 1978 (where a minimum of 40% of the electorate had to vote in favour of devolution) that wouldn’t have been enough to bring about the change.

Not only that, but some observers are questioning whether the people voting Leave actually meant what they said. Google reports that the most popular searches from the UK on EU-related subjects after the results were announced were “What does it mean to leave the EU?” and “What is the EU?” Flabbergasting.

And then there’s Scotland. Having had their independence referendum in September 2014, it appeared that the last-ditch pledge of the three major UK parties to give Scotland, in effect, “devo max” had persuaded enough Scots that the Union was worth persevering with. But the SNP fought the 2016 election on a pledge to rerun the Indyref if the UK voted to leave the EU but Scotland voted to remain. That’s now happened, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s already working hard to find ways to keep Scotland in the EU – whether by blocking the Brexit process on legal grounds or by holding another referendum.

However, it was always clear that a simple majority of valid votes cast would be enough to win and that the UK government were committed to abide by the result. Those who favoured Remain but couldn’t be bothered to turn out to vote have only themselves to blame.

Likewise those who voted Leave as a protest but didn’t actually want to leave the EU. Their behaviour reminds us of the scene in Little Britain where Andy’s got Lou to build a bonfire of all his stuff:

LOU: You want it all put on the fire?
ANDY: Yeah, burn it up.
LOU: ‘Cause once I burn it, you can’t have it back. You do know that?
ANDY: Yeah, I know.
LOU: You want it all burnt?
ANDY: Yeah.
  [Lou lights the bonfire, which is soon blazing.]
ANDY: I want me stuff back.

Naturally, there are plenty of recriminations among the Remain camp. Labour look set for a vote of confidence in their largely absentee leader, Jeremy Corbyn. At the time of writing, seven Shadow Cabinet members had resigned following the sacking of Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn. More may follow.

And David Cameron’s inevitable resignation as Prime Minister has sparked a race for the leadership in the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson seems the clear front runner after his prominent role in the Brexit campaign – but there are plenty of mutterings that his support was out of personal expediency rather than genuine commitment to the cause. Theresa May hasn’t yet declared herself, but was relatively quiet in the Remain campaign and could yet come through as a unity candidate.

All in all, we’re living in interesting times. Deeply unsettling for those of us who are already living in the EU, and those who were planning the move there will be wondering where they now stand. No doubt they’ll find out soon enough – the negotiations have to be concluded within two years once the process is formally started, which looks likely to be in October after the Tories have their party conference. But for now, it’s all as clear as mud.

Naturally, the Brexit issue has been a hot topic on the BE Forum, especially among our Malta members. You can join in that discussion here.

Meanwhile, of course, the Forum continues to provide information on a wide range of expat issues, as well as the opportunity to socialise with like-minded people all around the world. You can see the full range of discussion boards here.

So what about our new content? We did consider giving you a highly symbolic Pic of the Week of a cross-Channel ferry leaving Calais, but we couldn’t find one we liked. So instead we’ve brought you a picture of one of Hong Kong’s Star Ferries crossing between Hong Kong island and Kowloon. Which should at least appeal to the demographic among the Leave voters who would like to turn the clock back to 1957.

One thing that’s unlikely to change following Brexit is the importance of tourism to the UK economy. The weaker pound should help keep Britain an attractive tourist destination. Many of England’s counties are already promoting themselves vigorously, of course, as you can see from their name signs at the county boundaries. But while some are drawing on their rich heritage, others have opted for bland marketspeak. We’ve got not one, but two quizzes for you this month – five evocative slogans, five cheesy. See if you can match the counties with their slogans!

For those of you who are forging ahead with plans to emigrate, we salute you. We also have some useful advice on keeping track of your money during the expensive process of getting yourself established overseas, courtesy of one of our preferred currency partners, Currency UK. Their Director, Alex Coates, has given us their take on the volatility of the currency market in the referendum’s aftermath:

As forecasted, sterling experienced significant drops – in the region of 10%, with a minor recovery during this morning’s trading.

Obviously, the outcome was a surprise to the market. Whilst volatility does persist, it’s not as bad as it could be.

With more significant losses seen against the US dollar, the pound’s fall versus the euro has been softened by the Brexit impact on the euro itself and the Spanish election this weekend.

There are therefore good opportunities for expats receiving income in US dollars to capitalise on these historically low GBP/USD rates.

Whilst any fall in the euro may impact EU expats’ income, the sterling value of their overseas property has improved.

Write for British Expat

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Besides articles, we also publish quick trivia quizzes—five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping—from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat—the definitive home for British expats

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