Has a Brit expat saved the UK from Brexit with kebabs?

If you want to read one clear analogy of what Brexit could mean, let it be this one by a British expats in Paris.

Has a Brit expat saved the UK from Brexit with kebabs?
Photo: Lauri Rantala/Flickr
While both sides on the Brexit debate are struggling to get their arguments across, a British expat in Paris has possibly given the clearest analogy yet for what would happen if Britain left the EU. And it involves kebabs.

Paris-based Briton Iain Black has been hailed by some as potentially single-handedly keeping the UK in the EU.

While many legal experts have attempted to describe what will happen post-Brexit, their ideas have often been lost in complicated language and references to conventions and treaties.

But Black, who runs bicycle tours around the French capital city and works in the Coq & Bulldog pub, has cut out all the fat around the debate, and packed the argument into one easy to digest pitta bread.

We’ll let him explain:

“I know there are problems with the EU but can anyone properly explain what our plan is if we leave?

“We have all been on a night out with that mate who when you are in a club says “it's shit here” let's go somewhere else.

“Then when you leave you realise he has no idea where to go and the place you left won't let you back in.

“Without a decent follow up plan, a leave vote could see the UK standing in a kebab shop arguing about whose fault it is.”

Needless to say the tangible analogy has struck a chord with the public who appear to have lost their appetite for the increasingly hysterical arguments presented by the main stream campaigns.

Black's Facebook post has since gone viral, being tweeted and shared tens of thousands of times, including by Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

 And some suggest Black has done the StrongerIN campaign a massive favour.

“Well said fella you hit the nail on the head,” said another commenter.

Have you got any more tangible analogies to sum up the Brexit debate?

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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.