How many UK expats living in the EU will be directly affected by Brexit?

matthew smithies
Mar 28, 2019 · 5 min read
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Photo by Rob Curran on Unsplash

1,657,137 (approximately)

On the 20th of March 2019, the record breaking e-petition — Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU was opened. It went viral and gained millions of signers.

There have been questions whether the majority of votes had been generated by automated bots, others claimed that they had signed the petition multiple times.

With such a pivotal time in the history of the UK we are at an empass, there is a blank unknown wall in front of us, no one individual really knows what is going to happen after April 12th. Will there be another extension?

Only time will tell.

As a Software Developer, I found this data and the voting map from the e-petition fascinating.

More specifically it told us exactly how many individuals in a given constituency signed and how many individuals signed from different countries.

Wait a second.

If i know the percentage of voters of a given area, against the population, then find the average given all 650 constituencies I could estimate the expat population of a given country using its total votes.

Or perhaps?

Is it likely that the expat percentage population of total signers from a given country will be close to the percentage that has been inferred from the UK as a whole?

This theory switches the focus from the intelligence of an individual to collective intelligence pushing toward a single goal.

I have used similar techniques in my professional work:

  • How I helped Code for Cash 10x their job opportunities by using the collective intelligence recruiters and human resource staff.
  • How I gathered lists of linked professionals for outreach based on keyword targeting — individuals want to be found as they use keywords that relate to their niche.

These are some points that we need to consider:

  • There are around 5.9 million signers.
  • There is a barrier to entry, a requirement of email verification before a signature is cast.
  • There is an even spread of voters from all over the UK, there isn’t a single constituency that has an overwhelming majority of votes. This is backed up mathematically by the Standard Deviation large results.
  • Countries outside of the UK have far fewer votes.

To reiterate these figures are an estimation based purely on the data from 25/3/2019, so please consider this information as an experiment with a range of population data.

According to there have been UK expats population estimates ranging from 1.3 million to 2.3 million from different sources.

Our estimation for the total number of expats is 1,657,137 which sits in the aforementioned range.

The expat population of Spain is around 310,000 our data estimated that figure to be 292,567 so there is approximately a 5.8% drop in the figure.

Unfortunately our figures don’t really sit with the estimation of the expats in Ireland of 280,000 in 2017 compared to our average estimation of 110,247 which sits more in the 2010/2011 estimation of 112,000.

Due to this we added standard deviation projections that provided a range. Interestingly enough we can provide a concrete minimum but no actual maximum as the standard deviation figure was high enough to infer that the data is less likely to be fake as it was spread over a large range. In this case the percentage of inviduals that signed against the population of a given constituency.

For Ireland we can comfortatably estimate the maximum population at 237,280 which is still far below the figure from

Although this data, in its current state, cannot provide a maximum number of individuals in a country it can provide confident minimums by using the standard deviation calculations.

Only time will tell if these figures are accurate, I really hope they are not.

I hope that measures can be put into place which can help alleviate the effects of Brexit. Like with Spain allowing expats access to healthcare until 2020.

My plea for those reading this:

Please share and send this article and help get this information infront stakeholders that need to see it — it could help hundreds of thousands of individuals.

Below are a series of graphs that visualise the various population ranges. Although the minimum values are lower, on the grand scale of an entire’s countries population these differences are small.

First, EU states that have under 10k UK expats living in the country.

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Secondly, EU states that have between 10k — 100k UK expats living in the country.

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Finally, EU states that have a population of 100k UK expats living in the country.

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For those of you that want to see the full estimations, take a peek below.

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In addition I have figures for over 200 worldwide countries, reach out to me if you wish to see them.

Thank you for your time.

— -

This content is a little different from my usual work.

If you have reached the bottom and hopefully enjoyed this article, feel free to reach out and message me. The truth is I have been writing personal content over the last couple of years focusing around the topics of staying sane as a remote developer, productivity and generally being kind and conscientious. I would love to compile and share my thoughts with others.

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