I will be able to vote in the upcoming referendum on whether the UK stays in the EU or not. I am happy about this. It does have a certain degree of relevance to my life: as a British citizen living in a different EU country.
Brexit would mean renegotiation of all trade deals, a tremendous amount of work creating new laws to cover the many things that the EU currently deals with, and would potentially act as catalyst for others (like Denmark) who might be very tempted to leave. We should remember that we currently live in the only period of history when there hasn’t been war in Europe. The EU isn’t just about trade, human rights, environment and excessive bureaucracy (all of which it excels at) – it is mostly about natural enemies living together in peace.
But the EU is nearly as undemocratic as the British Parliament, and desperately needs reform. Here I find myself – for literally the first time ever – in agreement with David Cameron. How it should be reformed we, of course, differ. But – for all its faults, of which there are many – The EU is better than no EU. Especially for a country like the UK which is in the clutches of an otherwise un-checked dictatorship-in-the-making.
This, however, will be the last referendum I will be able to vote in. And the last election was also my last. The reason? I have not lived in the UK for 15 years, and after that period of time – due to laws brought in by Tony Blair’s government in 2000 – ex-pats can’t vote. I understand why they have this rule – even if I disagree with it. However, as I am not a Danish citizen, I can’t vote here either. This means that the only elections I am actually entitled to vote in are the EU elections. And if there’s a Brexit, that right too will disappear. As will my right to remain in Denmark under the terms of my residency permit.
Incidentally, at the last EU elections I didn’t receive a polling card (neither did most of the ex-pats I know). It seems that they forgot to send out a post card to tell us that new rules would mean we would have to write to a certain address to register. No-one I know received these. Because we didn’t register, we were turned away at the polling stations. Danish citizens didn’t have to register. Nor did I at previous elections. My story spent 10 minutes on the front page of TV2 news before being removed entirely.
So my voting days are over – I’ve voted at every election I have been able to (even though those I voted for have not won a single time!). All of you who still have a vote, please remember how lucky you are and don’t waste it by not voting, or by voting for popularist hate-mongers. Many people died to get you the vote. You have a voice (albeit a very little one). I don’t any more. But I do have a blog. And songs. Muhahahaa!