EU Referendum #4 | Interview: Why British Expats In Europe Should Be Given The Vote

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This series is being run by a young Brit who lived in Belgium for 19 years and now resides in Cardiff, known on theSprout as Ironfoot. The aim? To inform and involve other young people in this once-in-a-generation debate from many important and interesting perspectives. See bottom to get involved!

The EU referendum is just around the corner and will decide the future fate for Britain on its European Union Membership, with team Brexit (British Exit) wanting to leave the EU and team Pro-EU wishing to stay. With little over a month to go, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, especially around British expats.

Recently, I interviewed a young Brit called Harry Leonard, a student studying at Bristol Universitycompleting his BA Degree in Science & Economics. Harry lived in Belgium throughout the majority of his childhood and his parents currently work and live in Brussels.

He was educated in the UK at the school of Harrow in London and his objective is to get a career in finance here in the UK after university. Harry is just one of thousands of British individuals who has been brought up in Belgium and, through his experiences, he was able to understand what it’s like to live in a country part of the European Union, especially living in the capital of Europe, where various languages are spoken and many European nationalities live together.

Harry has been living in the UK for a few years now and he is entitled to vote. He is also serious about voting in the upcoming EU referendum in June and he has confessed to me that his position is being pro-European. He also has two older brother who both live in London and they can vote as well. However, his parents who are recognised as “British Expats” because they live in Belgium can’t vote in the referendum.

Is this fair or not?

The Interview

I asked Harry questions on various subjects, like education, family, politics and, of course, the referendum.

Bristol University is ranked as 37th out of the 160 universities in the country and is also ranked 69th in the world, which is an impressive statistic. As of recently, there are over 27,000 registered students studying at Bristol University, including a large percentage of European students who pay their fees, wanting to become professionals in specialised areas and get full time work. Those who desire to remain in the UK will have to contribute towards the local economy and pay taxes to the UK government. However, the referendum could change all that.

If the UK decides to pull out, will the EU students stay or will they go to affordable universities in Europe?

“I think they will stay because I think the best things about UK universities is their diversity and there are people who come to university that can learn from each other, just as you can learn from your lectures. It’s likely that the fewer the overseas students who come to the UK, the more we are going to lose out on this diversity and I think it is a real shame. I suppose we will wait and see.”

Might UKIP gain political advantage if the UK stays in Europe?

On the subject of politics, I asked Harry if there is a possibility that UKIP – who are clearly anti-EU and support the Brexit campaign – might gain political advantage if the UK stays in Europe, and would there be a split within the Conservative party?

“I think absolutely, UKIP, even in their name, make their objective very clear. They are a single-interest party and I think Cameron really won the UKIP vote [in last year’s General Election] by promising the EU Referendum, but UKIP still got a lot of the votes and secured seats. Some voters believed that the Conservatives would give them what they wanted and they were more likely to win than UKIP, so voted Conservative. So, I think there is a power struggle between the two parties and, if we do stay in Europe, I think there are a lot of people who voted Conservative who want to leave the EU and very likely would go and support UKIP because it is the most pressing issue at the moment.”

Should British Expats in Europe be given the vote?

“I think they absolutely should. Ultimately, I think that the decision of this referendum is going to hit them arguably the hardest out of every Brit because lots of them are working in Brussels because of the European Parliament. So, if the UK’s ties with the EU end up being cut, then a lot of those people who built their lives in Belgium will find themselves unemployed or will have to relocate back to the UK. So, I think there is a bit of a problem with that because these people have no control over their futures.”

Do you strongly encourage other young voters, not just in Cardiff but throughout Britain, to vote for this referendum?

“Absolutely! I think especially given the implications on youth employment and unemployment, given the situation that the economy is in right now. I think young people are especially going to be affected by the outcome and I think a lot of young people across the country feel they don’t know or don’t care, which is encouraging some to not vote. I think it is a real shame because they really are going to be affected by the decisions. So, I would encourage all the young people out there to get up and vote.”

What is your message to all those young people out there?

“I think the most important thing is, whichever way you decide to vote, just to make sure you look at the pros and cons very thoroughly, as both sides have very strong arguments for and against. I know my position, but I know other people would disagree with me, but as long you make an informed decision then that’s all I could ask for really.”

Writer’s message

For the readers of theSprout and young people in Cardiff, after interviewing various individuals in Cardiff and across the UK, it is vital to look at some of the information presented recently on the news. If you are certain about your decision on the EU Referendum, then that is good. But, for some of you who are not following any of the debates, please do some research, go online and find out where you personally stand. This referendum will definitely impact everyone’s lives, so get your voices heard!

If you wish to listen to the full Skype interview please click the link.

This project is being co-ordinated by a young British-Italian living in Cardiff and is being facilitated by theSprout’s Sub-Editor, Tom. If you would like to write, conduct interviews, be interviewed, become a camera or photography assistant, or more, please feel free to email

Related Film & All Series Articles:

Exclusive Film: The UK’s Relationship With The EU

EU Referendum #1 | Interview: What Will Happen To The Science & Research Sectors Without The EU Grants?

EU Referendum #2 | Interview: What Will Happen To The EU Students If Brexit Wins?

EU Referendum #3 | Interview: Brexit Would Be Good For International Students

EU Referendum #4 | Interview: Why British Expats In Europe Should Be Given The Vote

EU Referendum #5 | Interview: How Will The Arts & Disabilities In Cardiff Be Impacted?

EU Referendum #6 | Brussels Tour | Interview: NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General For Emerging Security Challenges, Dr Jamie Shea

EU Referendum #7 | Brussels Tour | Interview: Chief Executive, The British Chamber Of Commerce In Belgium, Glenn Vaughan

EU Referendum #8 | Brussels Tour | Interview: ‘The EU: Political, Institutional and Constitutional Reform’, Prof. Martin Westlake

EU Referendum #9 | Interview: How Will The Erasmus Programme Be Impacted By The EU Referendum?

EU Referendum #10 | Brussels Tour | Interview: Chairman, The Welsh Society In Brussels, Rhodri Thomas

EU Referendum #11 | Brussels Tour | Interview: NATO Editor, Paul King: “In My Opinion, Brexit Damaging For The UK”

EU Referendum #12 | Brussels Tour | Interview: Mark Laity (NATO’s SHAPE): “War Will Always Come To You!”

EU Referendum #13 | Brussels Tour | “EU Funding Has Transformed Wales” – Welsh Expat & Ex-Civil Servant In Agriculture & Economy, Andrew Aggett

EU Referendum #14: Interview: Derek Vaughan, Labour MEP

EU Referendum #15 | Brussels Tour | Potential Brexit Impacts On NATO – Interview With Ian Stallion, NATO’s Nuclear Deterrent Department

In a muddle about voting? Check out our BRAND NEW Voting page in our Info section here. Includes handy tips on what to do if you’re too young to vote.

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The next Sprout Editorial Group meeting is Thursday 26th May 2016 in Cardiff Central Library.

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