As you will know, the referendum to determine whether the UK remains part of the EU is due to take place on 23 June.
I would like to personally thank those British groups and organisations, and the English language media in Cyprus, who have helped the High Commission, on behalf of the Electoral Commission, to put out the message to British residents in Cyprus of the importance of registering to vote ahead of the referendum. Thanks to your efforts, the Electoral Commission have reported a spike in voter registrations from Cyprus. We will be continuing this drive in the next couple of weeks, building up to a second worldwide Overseas Voter Registration Day on 10 May.
This is important as the Electoral Commission believes there are as many as 5.5m UK citizens living overseas who may not know if they are eligible to take part in the referendum, and if so how to do this. All British citizens living overseas who wish to vote in this referendum are encouraged to register by 16 May, in order to establish whether they are eligible and if so to have their say.
If you are worried about not receiving, or being able to return, postal votes in time to vote, we encourage voters to consider appointing a proxy vote, where they appoint someone they trust in the UK to vote on their behalf. This can also be done on the above website.
I know that many British people living in Cyprus will be concerned about the issues under discussion and how the results of the referendum may affect them. What is clear is that leaving the EU will have many serious implications and no one yet knows the extent of them.
I would therefore like to draw your attention to the website EU referendum which groups together useful information about the issues at stake for those wanting to know more. This includes a copy of the government leaflet recently distributed to all households in the UK, and a number of policy papers issued by the Cabinet Office on the issues at stake and possible future scenarios.
The case to remain
The UK Government firmly believes that Britain will be stronger remaining in a reformed Europe than we would be out on our own. Our global influence is enhanced by being a leading member of the world’s largest trading bloc. We can play a leading role in one of the world’s largest organisations from within, helping to make the big decisions inside the EU – as we have been on Russian sanctions, bringing Iran in from the cold, and tackling people smuggling in the Mediterranean.
Throughout our history, our strength as a nation has come from looking beyond our shores and reaching out to the world. And today the EU, like NATO and the UN, is a vital tool for Britain – just as it is for other Member States – to boost our influence and multiply our ability to advance our common interests.
Second, the UK Government believes that Britain will be safer remaining in a reformed Europe than we would be out on our own. Today we – like other Member states – face a range of threats to our security, from terrorism to organised crime, from human trafficking to cyber attacks. We defeat these threats by working together, by the closest possible co-operation between countries, especially with our EU partners. And finally, the UK Government believes that Britain will also be better off remaining in a reformed Europe because British businesses will have full access to the free trade single market of 500 million people. This brings jobs, investment and financial security to our country, just as it does to Cyprus.
So the Prime Minister is campaigning hard for Britain to remain in a reformed European Union – which he believes will make the UK stronger, safer and better off. And on 23 June, it will be for the British people to make their decision.
Finally, for those living in and around Limassol and Nicosia, I would like to invite you to join us at the Europe Day fairs taking place on the evening of 7 May (17.00 – 21.00 on the Molos, Limassol ) and in the morning of 14 May (10.00 – 13.00 in Selimiye Square, north Nicosia) respectively. Please come and visit the UK stand and support our presence. I and my staff would be happy to discuss any issues with you.