Most British expats in the EU concerned about Brexit
A deVere Group polled has found that more than two thirds of British expats in Europe are worried about ‘Brexit’.
When asked, “Are you worried about the impact of Britain potentially leaving the European Union will have on you as a British expatriate?” 68 per cent of those surveyed, answered ‘Yes’.
24 per cent answered ‘No’ and 8 per cent did not know.
The findings underscore that there is major concern about a possible Brexit amongst EU expat communities.
Worries were from those from all age groups, income brackets and from different types of destinations where Britons mainly reside in Europe – including Marbella, Mallorca, Milan, Frankfurt, Paris, Prague, Budapest.
Whilst surveys show that the Leave and Remain campaigns are currently pretty ‘neck and neck’ amongst voters in the UK, this poll comes down firmly on one side. This is perhaps unsurprising as the possibility of Britain leaving the EU could potentially impact the lives of British expats in Europe more than it does on the lives of those who reside in the UK.
To my mind, there are two key areas to consider here.
First is the impact of Brexit on personal financial assets. Should Britain leave the EU, we can expect Sterling to weaken considerably against the Euro. Gilt prices are likely to fall and yields rise, as inflation creeps in due to the weaker Pound, and a new populist government gives up on Chancellor George Osborne’s budget austerity.
This would lead to higher mortgage rates – even if the Bank of England leaves its policy rate unchanged as it tries to calm the domestic economy. House prices can be expected to fall, triggered by buy-to-letters wanting to sell rather than roll-over more expensive mortgages. And on the stock market, small and mid-cap stocks will underperform as they don’t have the export earnings that save the FTSE 100 stocks from a wave of investor pessimism in the outlook for the UK economy.
None of this is good news for UK expats with assets in the UK.
Second is intergovernmental impact. This relates to how the UK government decides to honour or negotiate on issues such as pensions abroad and healthcare rights in EU countries.
Will UK pensions continue to be paid, inflation-linked, to those expats living in the EU? Or will the UK government try to save money? What will the other EU countries’ policies be towards British families’ access to education and healthcare?
If we refuse to accept free movement of EU labour, will UK expats be able to carry on working in the EU? Will they be able to own assets, such as houses or businesses, under their own name?
In short, whichever way the vote goes on June 23, there are likely to be repercussions for many British expats across Europe. They should consider taking steps to mitigate the financial risks and take advantage of the possible financial upsides of either outcome.