Close to 1.5 million British expats have found a new home in a European Union member state and tens of thousands of them fear what will happen to their homes, jobs and finances if the UK votes to leave.
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The decision will be made in the Brexit referendum vote takes place on June 23.
The majority of almost 750,000 live in Spain (319,000), Ireland (249,000) and France (171,000). The rest are in Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Cyprus and Poland with a few in other EU countries.
The main fear is that expats will lose their right to live and work in the EU if the Brexit vote is to leave.
Lawyers have argued that expats would become stateless and that they would lose housing, work and healthcare rights overnight.
Little will change whatever the vote
It’s possible this could happen – but it is just as possible nothing would change pending the two-year exit negotiation period.
Working visas would be available subject to the terms and conditions non-EU citizens face, but again this is unlikely to come immediately.
So a Brexit is unlikely to see a stampede of the 3 million or so EU expats living in the UK nor the hundreds of thousands of Brits abroad returning to home.
Various international treaties respect the rights of expats from the EU in the UK and vice versa.
This is even more reason why the lives of expats should stay the same for the two-year transition period.
Meanwhile, the remain and leave factions are still bickering in the UK.
The polls suggest both sides are neck and neck, but whether this is because no one really cares except the Brexit rivals within the Tory Party or for some other reason is unknown.
The latest arguments between Prime Minister David Cameron and his nemesis-elect former London mayor Boris Johnson have basic flaws.
Cameron is campaigning ceaselessly to remain in the EU and has turned the government machine to his advantage. A ceaseless flow of statistics and ‘what if’ scenarios are flooding out of all departments.
But the question is why did Cameron threaten the UK would leave the EU when he was renegotiating our terms of membership if all the scare stories he is circulating about what will happen if a leave vote prevails are correct?
Surely the same issues applied then as they do now.
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