British expats are shunning the chance to vote in the Brexit referendum even though thousands across Europe stand to lose the most if voters decide to leave.
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The government estimates 1.3 million British expats live in other European Union countries.
Only those who have spent less than 15 years as an expat can register to vote in the Brexit referendum, but so far only 196,000 have signed up to take part in the June 23, 2016 poll.
And time is running out for the rest as June 7, 2016 is the deadline for expats to register for the referendum.
The postal vote deadline has already passed. The final deadline is to allow expats to nominate a proxy voter in the UK to cast their vote for them.
Expat influence on result
Remain campaigners are trying to mobilise the expat vote as they believe they could be a huge influence in the result.
The expat vote is larger than that of any constituency in the UK.
Despite a costly and high-profile campaign run by British embassies, hundreds of thousands are ignoring the call.
“We know how important this referendum is for us, our children and the country,” said Simon Manley, the British ambassador in Spain.
Although he explains the registration figures are disappointing, Manley did point out that the numbers beat the last record for expat voters, which was recorded in the 2015 general election.
Expats can register for a proxy vote online
Remain campaigners have tried to encourage expats to join them by highlighting that their right to live and work overseas might be lost if Britain leaves the EU.
Another issue flagged as a possible Brexit problem include access to healthcare.
Leave campaigners suggest speculation about how countries will treat expats if Britain leaves the EU is exaggerated.
“Overstating what will happen if Britain stays or leaves the EU is insulting to voters and could make them switch off from the referendum,” said Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party.
“Fear based campaigning is bound to fail. Voters are not stupid and know when they are being conned. It’s better to concentrate on the facts.”
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