Letters: EU exit would be disaster for expats

These letters appear in the 29th May issue of The Independent

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In all the calculations on the future of Britain outside the EU, has account been taken of the return of the retired British expatriate community? We do get forgotten, especially since so many of us have been robbed of our right to vote. In the event of an exit vote, the first of many British victims will be the expats forced to leave their adopted homes in Europe through the withdrawal of European healthcare.

There will not be a balancing loss among Europeans currently in the UK because they are mostly young and employed. They will continue to pay social security contributions and receive benefits.

There are nearly a million retired expats, promising a population explosion such as Britain has never experienced before. The number far exceeds the dribble of European immigrants who so disturb the Eurosceptics. 

Most of us are over 65 and some need high levels of healthcare, so the extra demand on the NHS will be insupportable. Also we will be looking for housing and will load the British market to breaking point. Thus a European exit will profoundly exacerbate the two most critical social problems facing Britain.

Yet another problem will be the attitude of the expats. By and large, they are intelligent and articulate; some even speak a second language would you believe? They will be angry at the disruption imposed on them by the deliberately misleading arguments presented by the government and the British media. When it comes to European issues, in the future neither of those would get the easy ride they have been used to.

On the other hand if the government is not committed to the exit, a million extra votes for staying in would help get them out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves.

Gissa vote, please.

Mike Goldsmith

Fuilla, France


Both the CBI and Airbus have recently added their weight to growing calls for the UK’s continued membership of the EU.

It is vital that those, like the European Movement, who believe that our future lies with the EU stand up to be counted. Such a move must extend beyond the business community, to include civic society and all those who see our future as part of the European Union.

In basic economic terms, the EU is the largest single market in the world, with a population of 500 million, and an economy seven times the size of the UK’s.

Indeed, just under half of Scotland’s international exports are destined for countries within the EU and at least 330,000 Scottish jobs – around one in seven – are dependent on our membership of the European single market.

A report published by the CBI in late 2013 said the benefits of EU membership were worth £3,000 for every UK household.

This referendum is a choice between openness and isolation, shaping the future or retreating into the past. It is crystal clear that continued membership is in our national interest.

Derek Hammersley

Chair, European Movement in Scotland,  Edinburgh


Much of the debate about the continued benefits of staying in the EU has centred around the economic arguments. But a much bigger issue is that a strong EU, with Britain at its heart, has made the possibility of another European war unthinkable.

I had the privilege of attending the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate, in Ypres, at the weekend. I challenge any of the Eurosceptics to go there and not have their opinion swayed by the unimaginable consequences of a divided Europe. Yes, the economic arguments are important but they are far outweighed by the overwhelming national interest of a peaceful future.

Professor Chris Guy



Nicola Sturgeon argues that the UK should only leave the EU if, at a referendum, all four nations were in support of that course.

As a rational woman she is presumably now also of the opinion that the UK could only be broken up if there were similar agreement. In which case a “Yes” vote at last year’s Scottish referendum would have been invalid. And any future referendum on Scottish independence would require the participation of the English, Northern Irish and Welsh.

Susan Alexander

Frampton Cotterell,  South Gloucestershire


Unequal treatment of football teams

Vast amounts of money circulate in the football world, so I have long wondered where it ends up. The recent Fifa arrests may have provided an answer (report 28 May).

Nearer home, English Premier League clubs that can pay players £200-£250,000 per week, and ask a £50m transfer fee for a player, are said to owe HM Revenue and Customs equally large amounts in unpaid tax. Yet it is a club like Bideford AFC that is at present having to cope with a winding-up petition issued against it. This follows similar survival struggles by Accrington Stanley which owed the taxman £308,000, and Hyde United with a debt  of £120,000.

Perhaps the Fifa arrests will encourage HMRC to turn its attention away from the minnows among football clubs, and to tackle the sharks.

James Lancaster

Chorley, Lancashire


It seems increasingly strange that we, in Europe, have to leave it up to the US to bring wrongdoers in the banks and Fifa to account. Why not us?

Des McCarthy

Dunstable, Bedfordshire


Regarding the Fifa arrests: I can’t believe it’s not Blatter!

Dr John Doherty


A grotesque display at parliament

Ultimate irony: the Queen talking of “one nation” at that parody of equality, the state opening of parliament (report, 28 May). Consider the symbolism: Her Majesty seated on the throne in full bejewelled regalia; assembled lords and ladies (representing none of us) in similar splendid robes of office, also seated – and our elected representatives, as befits commoners, in common garb and standing in the presence of their superiors. Why do we accept this grotesque and far from subtle insult?

Robert Dow

Tranent, East Lothian


I note that the Speaker has told SNP MPs that applause is not an acceptable form of behaviour in the House of Commons. They will find that braying is the normally accepted way of indicating approval no doubt.

Keith Flett

London N17


Who will pay for the minimum wage deal?

Plans to abolish income tax on the minimum wage may, on the face of it, appear to be a good way to enhance the income of those at the bottom of the pay scale. But where are these tax cuts supposed to come from? Welfare benefits? Cuts to the National Health Service?

It seems to me that Labour’s plan to increase the basic level of the minimum wage at source by making employers pay a decent wage was far more equitable. Instead the government proposes enriching bad employers even further by raiding the public coffers.

Low-paying employers already receive a hand-out from the public purse in the form of tax credits to employees and the public infrastructure they need to run their businesses.

Robert Birchall

Yell, Shetland


Tony Blair helped to open the gates of hell

Dr Marlowe (Letters, 25 May) reminds us that George Bush was warned by the Arab League that if he invaded Iraq “the gates of hell would open”; and they have. But let’s not forget the major part played by Tony Blair and the majority of MPs who cravenly went along with him in the face of the largest protest ever seen in this country, and the dire warnings of many respected figures both at home and abroad.

Donald Macintyre (23 May), in his profile of the Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall, writes: “She is likely to say that clearly the invasion was wrong in hindsight in the absence of WMD.” I do hope that she will not be dishonest enough to trot out the hindsight stuff; in addition to all the above-mentioned warnings being ignored, the weapons inspectors were called off before they had completed their task and made their report.  

The only way forward for Labour on this issue is to distance itself from Blair and to apologise unreservedly for this cruel, vainglorious war and for Labour’s part in the opening of the gates of hell.

Julie Harrison



At last a newspaper has had the balls to name and shame Tony Blair for the war criminal so many believe him to be. Well done The Independent and especially Robert Fisk (28 May) for continuing to highlight the plight of Palestinians and the Middle East.

Charles Miller

Cairnbulg, Aberdeenshire


Ham and eggs revisited

Surely Philip Cosgrove (letters, 26 May) can now see where he has been going wrong with his ham and eggs? Had he been using pheasant (or possibly quail) eggs and hay-baked ham? Thought not!

Keith Tizzard

Ottery St Mary, Devon