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British expats rush to register to have their say over Brexit

British people living abroad are clamouring to have their say on June 23rd with the number of expats registering to vote quadrupling since the date was set.

British expats rush to register to have their say over Brexit
Photo: PaulDCocker / Flickr

With an estimated five million Britons living abroad – around a million of whom are estimated to be in Spain – the expat vote could have a decisive impact on the referendum on whether or not Britain should remain within the EU.

Polls currently show the leave/remain vote to be neck and neck, but with expats the most likely to be against a Brexit, they could help tip the balance.

Since Saturday, when the date of the referendum was announced, the number of online registrations by British nationals has quadrupled to more than 2,600 people a day, a sign of how keen expats are to have their say.

READ: Ten-point guide on how to register to vote in the EU referendum

“Whether you think the UK should remain in or leave the EU, the 23rd of June will be your chance to have your say. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the British people to decide,” urged Simon Manley, the British Ambassador to Spain on a visit to Malaga this week.

“You might be asking yourself, why bother to vote? Although you may now live in Spain, most expats still have strong ties with the UK – financial, family, friends. You may also decide to return one day,” he said.

“So you very probably do have a stake in the outcome and how it may affect your life. I strongly encourage you to register to vote – just go online and follow the simple process.”

At the start of the year a mere 11,000 Britons resident in Spain were registered to vote in the UK.

Only those who have been on the electoral roll in the UK within the last 15 years are eligible to vote under the same rules that apply to general elections.

Those who can vote will be asked: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time.

 
If you a Brit living in Spain we would love to hear your views on the possibility of the UK leaving the EU and what it would mean to you.

Send your thoughts on Brexit by email to [email protected]

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BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

READ MORE: 

Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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