Disastrous no-deal remains legal default: 1.8m expats urged to register to vote now

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05 Nov, 2019

Disastrous no-deal remains legal default: 1.8m expats urged to register to vote now

British expats must register to vote now in the UK general election as a detrimental no-deal Brexit remains the legal default at the end of 2020 – and it will hit their finances disproportionately hard.

This is the call-to-action from the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, which has more than 80,000 expatriate clients, comments: “On Monday, the British government categorically ruled out extending the transition, which starts on January 31, beyond 2020. 

“This means that the UK and the EU will have only 11 months to thrash out and finalise a free trade agreement.  This is ‘ambitious’ to say the least! Like many, I am sceptical it can be done.

“Indeed, the absolute ruling-out of an extension will be taken by many as Downing Street’s de facto commitment to a no-deal, which after all does remain the legal default as of the end of next year.”

He continues: “Who will be disproportionately affected by a no-deal Brexit? The 1.8 million expats living in the EU.  

“We can expect their pensions, insurance and healthcare to be affected overnight if there’s no-deal.”

He continues: “A no-deal Brexit would put an end to passporting rights, so a British pension provider would no longer automatically have the right to make payments in the pension holder’s home country.

“The end of passporting would also hit insurance companies who might be unable to pay out to their customers in the EU.

“In addition, Britons who have retired in EU countries might lose annual increases to their state pensions if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

“The government would continue paying the annual increases for three years in such a scenario, but it gives no guarantees after that. The state pension is currently uprated each year by the higher of either wage growth, inflation or 2.5 per cent.

“A no-deal scenario would end the current reciprocal healthcare arrangements shared by the UK and the EU27.”

Mr Green concludes: “This is why it is essential that those expats who are eligible to do so [those who have lived overseas for less than 15 years] register to vote in the forthcoming UK general election – which is by all accounts a second Brexit referendum – to ensure their voices are heard.  

“The registration process can be lengthy, which is why many were denied the vote in the referendum in 2016. I therefore urge British expats to do this sooner rather than later.

“This is perhaps now especially important due to the rise of the Brexit Party and as public opinion on Brexit has become even more polarised since the original referendum. This means that more people could, three and a half years on, now only accept – and vote for – a no-deal Brexit.”