Glimmer of hope for Brits in Spain: House of Commons to debate second EU referendum

petitionBritish expats in Spain and resident Brits who own property there – as well as Spaniards living in the UK – have seen a tiny light at the end of the ‘Brexit’ tunnel: a petition is due to be debated in Hansard over a possible second referendum on the country’s EU membership.

Now that the early falll-out of the UK’s bid to leave the Union has given a taster of what is likely to come – stock markets, shares and the sterling dropping, interest rates likely to rise and possible referenda on Scottish independence and Ulster/Republic of Ireland union under serious discussion – some Brexit voters, and non-voters who would have supported ‘Remain’, have started to wish they could go back in time.

A petition has been started on the UK House of Commons website started by Brit William Oliver Healey calling for another referendum in which the result will not be valid unless at least 75% of the eligible voting public takes part – as opposed to 72.1%, as was the reality – and at least 60% of the votes goes in one way or another.

Petitions started on the Commons web page need 10,000 signatures for the House to be legally obliged to reply, and a minimum of 100,000 for the issue to be debated in Hansard.

William Healey had beat the second goal by 50% within less than three hours of starting the petition and, at the time of going to press, it had netted 1.7 million signatures – exceeding the number of votes to remain in the EU.

As it stands, those not eligible to vote – Brits who have been outside the UK for 15 years or more, EU citizens residing in the UK, and anyone under 18 – and those who wanted to remain in the EU are set to be forced out of the 28-country bloc by just 51.9% of voters, who represent 17 million people in a country with a population of 62 million.

Statistics have since shown that the 18-44 age group was more likely to vote to stay in, whilst the 45-60 age group was evenly split and the over 60s overwhelmingly voted ‘out’ – meaning the ‘Brexit’ vote is unrepresentative of the workforce.

And British expats in the EU, of whom at least a fifth officially and possibly a third or more unofficially are based in Spain, voted, in the majority, to remain, or would have done if they had been eligible, whilst 96% of Gibraltarians – many of whom work with people who live in Spain and commute – voted to stay.

The whole of Scotland, nearly 90% of London and two-thirds of northern Ireland wanted to stay – and a campaign titled ‘Scotlond’ has started, calling for the British capital and the northernmost region to band together and leave the UK in order to rejoin the European Union.

But even among those statistically more likely to vote ‘out’ – the over-60s based in the UK – those who have younger relatives, family or friends with connections or residence in Europe, or aspirations of retirement in the EU voted to stay, as did the very elderly who remember the Second World War first-hand and were reluctant to risk a break-up of what had since been an area of peace and teamwork, lest they and future generations suffered the same conflict these older voters had, themselves, lived through.

And UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who was not part of the official ‘Leave’ campaign, has admitted that the claim of the 350 million pounds a week the UK spent on EU membership being freed up for spending on the NHS was incorrect, and such a high amount of funding would never be available for British public services.

Published Think Spain 27 June 2016

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