No-deal Brexit: Holidaymakers and pensioners hit in pocket as pound falls to two-year low

Summer holidaymakers heading to Europe will feel the pinch as sterling slid to a 28-month low on Monday after new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government said it now assumed there would be a no-deal Brexit.

No-deal Brexit: Holidaymakers and pensioners hit in pocket as pound falls to two-year low
Photo: AFP

Sterling fell below $1.23 against the US dollar. The pound had been trading at $1.50 on the day of the 2016 referendum.

It also fell sharply against the euro – down by around 0.8 percent to €1.10 on international currency markets on Monday as Johnson's government ramped up its no-deal rhetoric.

Following the vote to leave the EU, the pound fell sharply. In the weeks following the referendum the pound fell by 10.4 percent against the Euro from €1.3017 on June 23rd to €1.16 on July 6th 2016. It has been up and down since then will likely fall further as the UK approaches a cliff-edge on Brexit on Halloween.

Analysts say comments from new Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had helped push down the value of the pound.

He said the UK would be in a better position to negotiate with the EU after a no-deal Brexit and said the “stubborn” EU would be to blame if the UK and Europe parted ways without a deal.

Johnson’s is gambling on his hope that the threat of a no-deal Brexit on October 31st will persuade the EU’s biggest powers – Germany and France – to agree to revise the Withdrawal Agreement that former Prime Minister Theresa May agreed last November but failed three times to push through the British parliament.

It was also reported on Monday that Johnson is refusing to sit down with EU leaders until they show signs of agreeing to drop the Irish backstop.

Johnson has been invited for talks with Germany's Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, but so far no dates are in the diary.


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Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.