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Fears of restrictions to overseas opportunities

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Bermudians believe Brexit will restrict their opportunities to live and work overseas, according to a survey commissioned by The Royal Gazette.

In a Global Research poll, 39 per cent of registered voters said Britain’s departure from the European Union will be negative to the island, with 12 per cent optimistic, 6 per cent believing it will have no impact and 43 per cent unsure.

Some 57 per cent of people said they opposed Brexit, with 15 per cent in favour and 28 per cent saying they do not know.

Among those who believe Bermuda will be adversely affected, 69 per cent identified their reason as passports and the ability to travel, work and live abroad.

A further 6 per cent said the move would generally hurt the global economy, 5 per cent said it was a removal of freedom and 5 per cent said it would reduce tourists to the island.

The main reason to be positive about Brexit, cited by 52 per cent of supporters, was that it could increase international business, and that EU countries could now deal independently with Bermuda.

Another 21 per cent said it could generate jobs and tourists for Bermuda, and 15 per cent simply said it would be beneficial for Britain.

The telephone poll of 400 registered voters took place between November 18 and 25, and has a margin of error of +/- 5 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.

British people voted to leave the EU by 52 per cent to 48 per cent at a referendum in June.

Since then, Michael Dunkley has claimed the split will make Bermuda’s relationship with Britain “stronger than ever”.

Following talks with the Joint Ministerial Council in London last month, the Premier reported that the UK would not change its relationship with the Overseas Territories and that the Bermuda Government was working to ensure Bermudians could retain free movement throughout the Schengen area.

Business figures in Bermuda have also expressed optimism, noting that Bermuda has been given third-country equivalence by the EU with the bloc’s Solvency II regulatory regime for the insurance industry, meaning firms can compete on a level playing field in the EU marketplace.

However, passporting rights, which allow British insurers to trade unhindered throughout the EU, are likely to be lost and entry to these markets will need to be negotiated with individual countries.

A breakdown of the local results shows that, mirroring the results in Britain, the younger generation was collectively more opposed to Brexit.

Among the 18 to 34 age group, 65 per cent were against, with 10 per cent in favour and 25 per cent unsure. Among the over 65s, 39 per cent were against, with 33 per cent in favour and 28 per cent unsure.

Whites were much more likely to have an opinion on Brexit, with 63 per cent against, 21 per cent in favour and 16 per cent unsure. Among blacks, 54 per cent were against, 13 per cent in favour and 33 per cent unsure.

Among men, 60 per cent were against, 17 per cent in favour and 23 per cent unsure. Among women, 55 per cent were against, 14 per cent in favour and 31 per cent unsure.