Financial experts urge British expats to register to vote over threat of no-deal Brexit

PUBLISHED: 12:41 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:43 06 November 2019

British expats who live in Italy protesting against Brexit in Florence. Picture: Arj Singh/PA Archive/PA Images

British expats who live in Italy protesting against Brexit in Florence. Picture: Arj Singh/PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Financial gurus are telling Britain's 1.8 million émigrés in the EU to ensure they have a vote, as the consequences of a no-deal Brexit could be disastrous for their finances.

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With a no-deal Brexit still as the legal default at the end of 2020, UK citizens abroad in the EU could see their finances hit "disproportionately hard" in such an eventuality, experts claimed.

The call to action came from Nigel Green, CEO of financial advisory organisation deVere Group, who warned expats not to miss out on their vote, as so many did in the 2016 referendum.

He said that the government's plan to "thrash out" a free trade agreement with the EU in just 11 months is "ambitious to say the least".

He pointed out that Boris Johnson has ruled out any extension on this transition beyond 2020.

"This means that the UK and the EU will have only 11 months to thrash out and finalise a free trade agreement," he said. "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."

MORE: How do I register to vote for a general election?

Green, whose company works with over 80,000 expat clients, gave numerous arguments for how profoundly British émigrés in the EU could be affected.

He said: "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 added that a no-deal Brexit would put and end to passporting rights, meaning that a British pension provider would no longer automatically have the right to make payments in the pension holder's home country.

This would also hit insurance companies which may not be able to pay out to their customers in the EU, said Green.

"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%."

MORE: More than 300,000 people register to vote in 48 hours

He also pointed out that a no-deal scenario would end the current reciprocal healthcare agreements between the UK and the EU.

Framing the next election as "by all accounts a second Brexit referendum", Green said it is essential that eligible expats make their voices heard.

Expats who have lived overseas for less than 15 years are eligible to register, he said.

"The registration process can be lengthy, which is why many were denied the vote in the referendum in 2016," said Green.

"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."

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