Brit expats in New Zealand split over referendum

Published:  1 Jun at 6 PM
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As Brexit’s day of reckoning inches ever closer, British expats in New Zealand are still split on how to vote.

Always a favourite with Britons looking for the perfect retirement home or a more rewarding life-work balance, New Zealand’s welcome to UK citizens is as warm as ever. Although a Brexit wouldn’t threaten UK expats’ right to remain in the country, it would certainly make it harder for New Zealanders to work in Europe.

Traditionally, British citizens who’ve made New Zealand their home are still strongly attached to the UK, with many now feeling that, should the UK leave the EU, its status in the world would be seriously affected. Others favouring leaving are concerned the home country is being held back by endless EU regulations and bureaucracy.

Local doctor Jim Miller arrived some eight years ago and believes Britain’s exit would lead to other countries splitting off and going their own way in competition with each other. 40-year resident Albert Bowkett still considers himself as much a Brit as a Kiwi, saying that it’s time for the UK to leave as membership has watered down British culture to an unrecognisable mess.

Natalie Bridges, director of a public relations company, pits economic arguments against the issue of national identity, saying the rebel in her soul would vote to leave. New immigrant arrival Phil Mosscrop doesn’t agree, saying that Britain’s world position would be much weaker as it’s a small country whereas Europe is huge. He adds that the EU is the UK’s largest market and, although the Union has many problems, it’s better to stay and help work them out than to go it alone.

The latest poll has seen the Leave campaign gaining ground again, mostly due to its focusing on unchecked immigration and its effect on British citizens. The ploy of suggesting that immigration rules should mimic those in Australia, where speaking English is a must and the points system for obtaining permission to stay is far stricter, is winning supporters. The Leave campaign is also suggesting EU citizens should no longer have an automatic right to work and live in the UK.
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