Could votes by UK expats in Oz swing the referendum

Published:  23 Jun at 9 AM
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Tomorrow’s the day the long-term future of the UK is decided, with the million or more UK expats living in Australia possibly able to swing the vote to Remain.

British passport holders living in OZ are fully entitled to postal votes if they have lived overseas for less than 15 years. Australia is home to 1.2 million expat Brits, with New Zealand accounting for another quarter of a million. Both the Remain and Leave camps have been at full stretch in the run-up to the referendum, knowing the possible size of the antipodean voter list could swing the result one way or the other.

According to cartoonist for the Guardian David Squires, now living in Australia, the timing of the referendum is unfortunate in being just after the Eurovision Song Contest and just before the general election. Not to mention, he adds, the racket surrounding the upcoming USA presidential election.

Squires is ambivalent about voting as he feels he’s essentially left the UK in another part of his life, but for most expats it’s the discussion topic of the century. A recent scare over possibly lost votes due to some Oz post offices refusing to accept the free International Business reply service stated on the voting form envelopes seems to have died down, but no-one really known what happened.

Many expats are glued to the movement of sterling against the Australian dollar, with the value of the pound rising and falling day by day. Australia’s Reserve Bank has deferred a change in interest rates until after the referendum result is known, calling the situation a ‘near-term risk’.

As regards the economic consequences for Australia of a Brexit, it’s not all bad news, as the country’s farmers would be able to negotiate better terms for their produce should Britain leave the EU. Other business sectors would welcome a UK Free Trade Agreement giving a better deal than the EU version.
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