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OPINION – BREXIT

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5 practical things Brits abroad can do to keep UK in the EU

If you're a pro-EU Brit living abroad, there's plenty you can do to keen Britain 'in', explains Laura Shields from the Brits Abroad: Yes to Europe initiative.

5 practical things Brits abroad can do to keep UK in the EU
Photos: Laura Shields and AFP

Pretty much every Brit abroad I talk to has got a bad dose of the Brexit blues. Many feel powerless, a lot have lost the right to vote and others feel our country is going to wake up on June 24th to the realization that voter apathy has just sleepwalked our children’s future over a cliff.

Now, I know not every expat shares my self-selecting sample’s anxiety. But if you do, then please read on. Here are five positive things you can do to help keep Britain in.

1. Register to vote

Now. Yes, this means YOU, pro-EU Brit who thinks we should stay in but also thinks they’ve got oodles of time to get their registration sorted. Think again, pal. The Electoral Commission is advising expats to register by May 16th so that there is plenty of time for mess-ups – sorry, admin – and time to organize proxies (often the more reliable option) and postal votes.

Can’t find your National Insurance number? Get on the blower to your former local council or Electoral Commission and find out what you need to do. You might think it’s a hassle…but then so is having to re-negotiate 40 years of trade agreements and a brand new social model that might exclude you.

2. Register someone else

This is really an extension of Point 1. But the logic still applies. Don’t assume (it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘you’ and ‘me’) that your friends and colleagues in other countries have got around to registering yet. Lots of Brits abroad work in international organizations with other British colleagues. Use your networks to mobilize their vote and get them to do the same. Get on the phone to them now.

Equally, work on registering young Irish, Maltese or Cypriot friends in the UK. Plus Erasmus students. They can all vote too but youth turnout in particular is expected to be low, as they have to register for the first time. You should preach the registration message until you are red, white and blue in the face. Pretty much all my friends now groan when I post something Brexit-related on Facebook. I consider this an achievement. Go forth and badger for Britain.

3. Inject some enthusiasm into the discussion

Don’t like Cameron? Failing to get excited by #Stronger In? In that case, why not make your own short testimonial video and send it to one of the many expat campaign groups? Our group in particular would love to hear from people who can inject some emotion and enthusiasm into the positive case for staying.

4. Donate to Stronger In

You may not identify with the designated 'Remain' campaign, but they are still our team and doing a very tough job. We also need to understand that for the past 40 years the hardcore Brexiters have been waking up fulminating about what Brussels has done to them. This is their time. The only way to counter this is to get behind Stronger In. As Bob Geldof might have said: Give them your f***ing money.

5. Take a week off and volunteer

The Remain camp are crying out for volunteers to do some good old-fashioned campaigning. Knocking on doors and handing out leaflets beats fighting with anonymous Brexiters on Twitter any day of the week. It is also much better for your mental health and can be an inspiring experience. I was heartened to hear from Liberal Democrat activists that most people are much more rational about the EU than the media would have us believe. Get out there and talk to people in an enthusiastic and inclusive way about why we should be ‘in’.

These are five practical, positive things that Brits abroad (including those who have lost the right to vote) can do to help.

So let’s stop moaning and get out there and make the case for staying. Let’s do more than ‘remain’. Let’s choose the EU.

Laura Shields is Campaign Spokesperson for Brits Abroad: Yes to Europe, a non-partisan 'get out the vote' initiative managed by the Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats. The campaign has a Facebook page with up-to-date news about the debate. More information on the Brussels and Europe Lib Dems referendum campaign and practical advice about voting can be found by clicking here.
 

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POLITICS

How likely is Denmark to have a general election ahead of schedule?

Analysts in Denmark say Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen could announce a general election as early as next week, despite flagging poll numbers.

How likely is Denmark to have a general election ahead of schedule?

Speculation suggests that Frederiksen will announce an election, which could take place by October but possibly earlier, when the Social Democrats convene next week for their summer group meeting. 

Legally, the next general election can take place as late as June 4th, 2023. 

But despite worsening polls, a general election in Denmark this autumn now appears likely due to increasing pressure on Frederiksen from other parties and heightened criticism of her government.

“It will not be possible to make any new, broad political agreements on this side of a general election. There’s no willingness to compromise between parties. So Danish politics is already frozen by the election campaign, even though it hasn’t been formally announced yet,” TV2’s political editor Hans Redder said last week.

Redder said it was “relatively probable” that Frederiksen will announce an election in August.

“The political season begins next week. Several parties will have their summer group meetings and start calling press briefings. So it’s just a question of which date Mette Frederiksen decides on,” Redder said.

The Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, which is an ally of the government, has demanded Frederiksen call a general election by October 4th.

Although a new general election is not due until next year, the Social Liberals earlier in the summer said they wanted an election by October after the government and Frederiksen were severely criticised earlier this summer in an official inquiry into the mink scandal.

The Social Liberals have the ability to bring down the government by withdrawing their support for Frederiksen and bringing an no confidence motion in parliament, although it’s not certain they would actually do this.

In addition to the mink scandal, Frederiksen’s government has been damaged by a high-profile case centred around leaks at intelligence service Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE), as well as broader criticism of her leadership style.

“(Frederiksen) really needs some wins and we have not heard much about what their election platform will be. That will come when the 2030 (political) plan is presented,” political analyst Hans Engell told news wire Ritzau.

“Bad opinion polls are not conducive to an early general election and it doesn’t seem as though there is complete clarity over their 2030 plan. They are probably keeping all their options open,” he said.

Talk of an early election comes despite poll numbers looking as bad for the government as they have at any time since they came to power in 2019.

A new opinion poll by Voxmeter for news agency Ritzau on Monday gave the Social Democrats their worst showing since 2015. 

The ‘blue bloc’ — anchored by the Liberal party (Venstre) and the Conservative party — command 50 percent of the vote according to the latest poll.

Meanwhile, the government’s ‘red bloc’ holds just 47.5 percent. 

The demands that Frederiksen hold elections by October at the latest come from the Social Liberals, also of the red bloc.

The ‘bloc’ classification commonly referred to in Danish politics broadly denotes whether parties are right or left of centre.

‘Blue bloc’ parties will usually work together in parliament and back the leader of the Liberal party to be prime minister if they can command a majority after a general election. The ‘red bloc’ will usually support the Social Democratic leader to become PM, as is currently the case with Frederiksen.

READ ALSO: Danish PM Frederiksen loses majority in ‘neck and neck’ new poll

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