Referendum Watch: Living Abroad

By Joe Young - Politics Editor

This is another one of the issues that people rarely agree on in the debate. But how would Brexit affect British expatriates in the European Union? Let us do the legwork and find out for you.

Brute Facts

  • 1.2 million British expats live in other EU countries (Source)
  • Under the Treaty of Lisbon, any EU national can live in any other Member State without a visa (Source)
  • 30,000 British people living abroad claim some unemployment benefits from the country they live in (Source)


  • The Remain side say that there is no guarantee that expats in the EU would be able to stay after Brexit
  • Remain supporter, and former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve claims that Brexit would turn thousands of expats into illegal immigrants “overnight”
  • They also say that for people living in the EU to study, there would be no guarantee that they would pay Home/EU student fees for the rest of their programme of study


  • The Leave side say that international law means current expats could not be forced to return to the UK
  • They also say that a deal keeping the UK in the European Economic Area would mean that expats are allowed to stay in their countries
  • Finally, they highlight that the House of Commons Library says “Generally speaking, withdrawing from a treaty releases the parties from any future obligations to each other, but does not affect any rights or obligations acquired under it before withdrawal.”

To read more in the Referendum Watch series, click here

About Joe Young 316 Articles
Joe Young has been involved with student media for a very long time now, holding posts within The Pulse, and Pulse Radio, as well as the predecessor of The Pulse, Pluto. He is currently Politics Editor of The Pulse, and Head of News of Pulse Radio. In 2016, he won the Media Award for Best Article for his coverage of the Fishergate Shopping Centre bomb scare.

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