Fil-Brits vote in historic, tight EU referendum
LONDON, United Kingdom – Filipino-British lawyer Amelia Alado is voting for the United Kingdom to "remain" in the European Union (EU) while heath worker MJ is voting "Leave" when polls open on Thursday, June 23, in the historic referendum that could alter the future of the United Kingdom.
Amelia and MJ are among the 46.5 million British citizens and residents who will decide the so-called Brexit (British exit), an issue that has nagged the country for years.
Polls open at 7 am (2 pm in Manila).
"Vote wisely and think of the future," said Philippine ambassador to United Kingdom Evan Garcia when Rappler asked him for his message to the Filipino-British eligible to vote.
The EU is an alliance of 28 member countries that agree to follow intergovernmental-negotiated economic and political arrangements. UK Prime Minister David Cameron scheduled the referendum as a fulfillment of his 2015 campaign promise, which was a response to criticisms that the EU has "gained control" of the lives of UK citizens. (READ: The UK's EU Referendum: All you need to know)
Polls have shown a close race between "remain" and "leave," with the economy, immigration, and the National Health Services (NHS) becoming the key issues in the debate. A late poll shows a slight lead for the remain campaign (48% to 42%) but a big bulk of citizens – around 11% – remain undecided.
"I have to highlight how the Prime Minister (David Cameron) has campaigned for UK Remain. I am voting remain because, in general, it has been beneficial for UK," Alado told Rappler.
UK's ruling Conservative party, of which Cameron is a member, is split. Cameron has led the remain campaign, warning that a Brexit will endanger the economy which will cause rising household bills and slower wage growth among other concerns.
It is not an easy decision, according to a number of Filipino-British that Rappler interviewed.
MJ said he was torn before he finally decided to vote in favor of UK leaving the European Union. He was wary of the impact on Brexit on the UK economy, but in the end he was more concerned about the future of the NHS.
"The final vote will be out mainly because of the NHS (National Health Services) funding... Most people who are in the health sector will vote out," MJ told Rappler.
Two other Filipino-British NHS workers Rappler talked to but refused to be named expressed the same sentiment.
The NHS has been fighting for a bigger budget. The leave campaign has argued that a Brexit is going to save the UK £8 billion of membership fees to the EU, which can be spent on the NHS. But it is a promise that has been questioned by various sectors including the Labour Party, which argued that an economic slump will cut the health budget.
The leave campaign led by former London Mayor Boris Johnson and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). UKIP was recently criticized for stoking fears that millions of Turkish citizens will migrate to UK if the majority-Muslim country is accepted to the EU. – Rappler.com