WITH the British referendum on remaining in the EU just days away, many British expats in Cyprus have already done their bit by sending in their postal votes but say they are increasingly concerned about the outcome of Thursday’s vote.
Most of the expats the Sunday Mail spoke to agreed that the outcome is ‘too close to call’, but said that they would be supporting a ‘remain’ vote.
This goes against the latest figures from the UK which suggest a ‘leave’ vote is gaining momentum.
More than 24,000 British expats live in the Republic, according to the 2011 Cyprus census, and hundreds of them live in Tala village in Paphos.
Local councillor, Cathy Delaney, said that residents have told her that they are concerned about what a ‘leave’ win could mean for them.
She also said that residents have reached a point of being ‘brassed off’ with the subject and that too much bickering by campaigners on both sides had led to scaremongering and misinformation.
“These debates on TV and the fear of the unknown has scared a lot of people. My views haven’t changed though,” she said.
Delaney has voted for Britain to remain as a member of the EU and, along with her husband, sent off her postal vote a week ago, but she said there were no guarantees that postal votes would be received on time anyway. Others have opted for a proxy vote whereby a designated person in the UK votes for them on Thursday.
Delaney said that instead of vicious and personal mud-slinging during televised debates, clear and concise points to remain or leave would’ve been far more helpful to voters.
“A lot of scaremongering has gone on and people are frustrated as there is a lack of real and solid information. There are so many questions which haven’t been answered.”
As to the outcome of the referendum, Delaney said the result ”will be tight”.
Britain’s stock market has hit a new three-month low as Brexit worries sweep through the City and Paphos-based journalist, Patti Sherratt, 69, said that whilst writing a recent financial services piece, sector workers expressed their concerns.
“The City of London is very worried, the exchange rate will suffer massively with a Brexit and the pound is already dropping like a stone,” she said.
She added that in the UK, immigration and the economy will be the deciding factors as to which way people will vote.
“I hope that the vote goes the right way and I voted by post to stay in. We do very well out of the EU as far as safety, security and the ability to live and work across Europe is concerned. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the alternative,” she said.
Haris Georgiou, 31, lives in Paphos and said that the referendum was an unnecessary waste of time and that Britain is focusing on the ‘wrong things’. He will use a proxy and will vote to remain in the EU.
“We should be building a stronger understanding and standing up for our rights within a better Europe, rather than trying to get out of it,” he told the Sunday Mail.
“My point of view hasn’t changed since it was announced and I’m voting to stay in. I don’t believe leaving will benefit us in any way.”
However, the British Cypriot said that improvements could be made to the operation and reach of the EU and stressed that countries need to have a certain amount of control over their decisions.
Bigger issues like workers’ rights and minimum wage, set by the EU and agreed by governments is a good thing, he added. “I don’t think we should just get up and leave because there are some things we don’t like.”
Geoff Adams vehemently disagrees. The 68-year-old lives in Paphos and said that he will be using a proxy to vote ‘out’. He said that Britain was seen as a soft touch by other Europeans and that there were too many ‘foreigners’ living in the UK.
“Criminals and ‘un-savouries’ from other EU countries come to the UK; we could be living next to one and there’s nothing we can do about it. They claim benefits and have more rights than native British people. I’m fed up with it and with the EU telling us what we can and can’t do,” he said.
George Stanley, 32, lives in Cyprus and will be voting to stay in, as overall he believes the UK will fare a lot better economically within a large bloc, rather than on its own.
“I think running away from something you don’t like is stupid, I don’t think the EU is perfect, there are a lot of things wrong, it’s quite bullish and a bit of a bully, however just running away won’t change it. You have to be within it to have any chance of change.”
Stanley said his views had not seriously wavered throughout the campaigning. He found some of the Leave campaigning irksome and arrogant.
“The Leave campaigning about how important Britain is and we can do it all on our own made me think, well maybe we should leave and then you’ll see that Britain isn’t as great as it thinks it is and it will just fail. But obviously in the long run, that’s not a good thing,” he added.