Expats from Yarmouth give their view on the EU referendum
PUBLISHED: 11:46 18 June 2016 | UPDATED: 11:46 18 June 2016
With just under a week to go until voting opens for the EU referendum, we spoke the people from Yarmouth who have since moved abroad to find out their views on the poll.
Just over 4.5m Britons live abroad, with approximately 1.3m of them in Europe, according to the United Nations.
Those living abroad are able to vote in the referendum if they’ve been out of the country for less than 15 years.
If they’re over 18 and registered to vote, expats can vote by proxy, by post, or if they happen to be in the UK on polling day, at a polling station.
However, the date by which they have to register has now passed.
In Great Yarmouth, the number of people registered to vote is 72,607, much higher than the last general election.
Employers are being urged to give staff an additional hour off work on June 23 so they can vote in the EU referendum. Labour MP Rushanara Ali said employees who work long hours or have lengthy commutes may struggle to get to the polling station unless they are given extra time.
“It may mean meetings start late or deadlines get pushed back, but the future of the nation is at stake,” she said.
“No citizen should be denied their right to vote because they were worried about being late for work or too scared to leave early.”
The question on the ballot paper is: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” You will be given the option to vote to remain or vote to leave.
The vote is being held next Thursday and polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm. Ballot papers will then be sent to your district council to be counted. This will take place from 10pm and people will be counting through the night and into the early hours. The district result will be sent to Chelmsford to be tallied for the East of England.
The East of England result will then be sent to Manchester where it will be added to the national tally and it is expected we will have a result by breakfast time.
If the UK votes to leave the EU, then the legal pathway out of the current union is through article 50, which was put into the 2009 Lisbon treaty.
This allows a country two years to negotiate the terms of its exit from the moment it notifies the EU of its intention to leave. A Brexit vote does not represent that formal notification.
Anders Larson, 38, a writer, said: “I grew up in Great Yarmouth, my family helped found the Holiday Association and my Grandfather was Mayor. It seemed odd to leave a town that means so much to me and my family, but I did, as my interests were elsewhere. For me it’s the difference between being on a beach in the sun, and looking at a picture of a sunny beach. The rights of freedom of movement and equality under the law, which we all enjoy because the UK is an EU member state, meant even though I flunked my A Levels, had no job or language skills, I could freely travel, work and live throughout a Europe I had hitherto only read about.
“It’s now cheaper to fly from Stansted to Berlin than to take the train from Norwich to London. For this reason I live in Vienna (Austria), a graceful city with the highest standard of living in the world, but, ironically, the same cost of living as Yarmouth. I arrived jobless and spoke no German. Now I read German and English newspapers and am considering becoming an MEP. Also, my mum can visit and stay as long as she wants, cheaply and without travel insurance or visas. But I’m not unusual or privileged: Austria is one of 28 EU countries, and everyone can do the same in all of them. Many EU citizens arrive with less and achieve more.
“I’m in, because an out vote makes my story almost impossible. It also changes equality under the law to discrimination under the law. By voting out we discriminate against ourselves. We forfeit our rights as EU citizens including equality under the law in close to 30 countries, and freedom of movement. And these are not only your rights or mine, but those of our mothers; families; friends, and our neighbours. Hypothetically if we vote OUT, the economy tanks as expected, and the Polish, Portuguese and Latvians shut-up shop, as EU citizens they can still leave and try again in 27 other countries. We could not, and who’s to say they will leave any jobs behind?”
Moira Granger, a former teacher from Gorleston, moved to the Costa Del Sol, Spain with her husband David in 2011.
The 65-year-old said: “We moved here because my sister and brother-in-law have had an apartment near Nerja for over twenty years and so I know the region, which is very beautiful.
“They moved out over 11 years ago and we always dreamt of doing the same. We are lucky to be living just 3 kilometres from them.
“I’ve got concerns about the referendum. There has been so much hype, and trying to get to the actual true facts is very hard as there is so much scaremongering going on.
“The major issue here is if we come out of the EU what will happen to our health care? As you can imagine most English people living in Spain are of retirement age, and with that often comes the high blood pressure and hip replacements.
We rent here so a house sale is not a problem. However many people may decide to return to the UK and that will cause a huge problem with hundreds more houses on the market. The local economy here in Spain will also nose-dive if the British pull out.
“My lifestyle here in Spain is very different. We have sun most of the year, although winters indoors are still very cold as the houses are not built to keep the heat in, so it was a bitter blow to lose our winter allowance. Apart from that we live a lot of time outdoors.
“I go to weekly Spanish classes and art classes, have bought a decent camera, and walk the dogs daily often around our local lake. We book local coach trips to various places like Cordoba, Granada and Ronda to see the area.
“If the UK was to leave the EU, us staying would depend if we can afford to live here any longer. I think health care will be the major issue for us.
“If it is too expensive we shall return to Norfolk and hopefully find somewhere to rent there. I will be devastated if we have to go back.
“I don’t think we should come out and neither do any other British people I have spoken to here. I know immigration is the biggest issue with many people but I don’t feel this will be solved in any way by leaving the EU.
“Many immigrants have helped the UK keep on its feet, I am aware there are many facets regarding immigration, many factors that need addressing and not all immigration is negative. I supposed I am a migrant as such here in Spain?
“I posted my vote yesterday, and it is to stay in.”
Sara Larsson, 26, was born in Gorleston and lived in the Great Yarmouth borough until last year when she moved to Madrid.
She said: “My husband had briefly moved to Great Yarmouth as he was working in a meat factory here for a number of years and I made the decision to go for a change and agree to go with him to Madrid last year.
“Just before I left I was doing a course in beauty based out of Norwich while living in Great Yarmouth. I really enjoyed it in Great Yarmouth and though Madrid is an entirely different world I do miss Norfolk.”
Mrs Larsson said should the UK leave the EU, she does not imagine it would make much of a change to her.
She however said that she has met several other British people living in Madrid who she has become friends with, and they are worrying about what it would mean for them.
She said: “I know a lot of people are concerned and whether it would mean that it would become almost impossible for them to carry on living in Madrid and have to move back in terms of health.
“I was also a very politically interested person and I am very passionate about the fact that we should remain in the EU.
“I think if we came out of the EU then I would be very worried about the economic situation.
“They are also talking about bringing control back but I don’t exactly agree that it would be in the right hands. What we don’t need is another recession.”
Peggy Starbuck, 88, has split her time between Spain and Caister for over three decades.
She first went on holiday to Spain in 1966, before the UK was even in the European Economic Community, or Common Market, the precursor to the EU.
She said she has been going to the country she calls a home way from home all those years and there has never been a problem when the UK was out of the EU.
Peggy said she is 75pc sure how she will vote, adding: “Your heart tells you to come out but your head tells you to think of all the businesses.
“You have got to take everything into consideration and think about the country as a whole.
The mother of six, who has 13 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren, said: “What we are spending to be in there we could do with spending at home.”
Peggy said that the Remain campaign’s latest argument that pensioners could lose out if the UK left the EU really frustrated her.
She said: “The thing that infuriates me the most is being told the pensions will be brought down. That is the lowest of the low.
“What Cameron forgets is just how many pensioners there are that could vote out.”
Sandra “Sandy” Bootman, 71, lives in Charleville-Mézières, in northern France.
She used to teach French and music at Woodlands Primary School in Gorleston.
The mother-of-two said: “The campaign has been absolutely ridiculous. It is just scaremongering on both sides. No-one is positive.
“There has not been a lot of media coverage in France. They don’t take a lot of notice. If I was living in England I might well vote out.”
Sandy said she was concerned about what the implications of a Brexit might mean for her.
“I want there to be a Remain vote because I’m very worried there might not be any reciprocal health care if we leave.
She added: “I’m trying not to stress about it, but after June 24 we’re going to have to make a decision if it hasn’t been made for us.
“From a personal point of view I hope and pray the UK stays in.”
She asked what would happen if one million ex-pats were forced to come home.
“I love the pace of life here. France has about the same number of people and cars but spread out across a larger area so it’s much better on the roads.
“The health care is absolutely fantastic, although you do have to pay a medical ‘top-up’ for some things, much more is free than in the UK.”
Sandy had a plea for undecided voters in Great Yarmouth, “Please for my sake vote in!”
Tony Mowbry, a former teacher from Great Yarmouth, moved to the Portuguese city of Lisbon in 2006.
The 68-year-old moved there following the death of his wife Maureen back in 2002.
He said: “I lived back and forth between Great Yarmouth and London for the majority of my life, but after my wife died felt like it was time for a new start elsewhere.
“My daughter lives in Spain and my son is all over the place but travels here quite regularly as well which is good for me.”
The major concern for Mr Mowbry is over the future of health care.
He said: “What will happen to our health care? It is quite hard to imagine what would actually happen I guess quite a few people might return to England depending on how things go, but I will definitely stay in Portugal.
“It is all a bit of a mess really I don’t think we should come out, I have a feeling that we will but will it really solve the issues people are concerned about such as immigration? I think the remain camp will be surprised.
“Of course there needs to be a way to control immigration to a certain extent and we need to make sure the people who are coming in are good people and won’t cause trouble.
“And I think that’s what you see with the majority of the immigrants over in the UK they are actually benefitting the economy.”