Have say in British battle over EU at ballot box

“We’re definitely detecting interest out there,” British High Commissioner to Australia Menna Rawlings said.

After marathon talks with other EU leaders last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the vote on staying with the 28-nation economic bloc, which potentially puts his leadership on the line, just to end Britain’s gnawing criticism of the EU since joining in 1975.

In the 2011 census, WA had twice the national average of people born in England at 8.6 per cent.

Perth’s northern suburbs had the highest number of Britons in Australia, including 36.6 per cent of Jindalee.

Rockingham and Mandurah, southern suburbs including Canning Vale and Willetton, and the south-east corridor from Thornlie to Armadale also have noticeable UK-born populations.

Ms Rawlings said English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish registered to vote in the UK in any of the past 15 years could participate in the referendum by postal, proxy and personal voting.

“Obviously they are not obliged, as it’s an individual’s choice, but we know from other elections that lots of people are still interested in what is going on at home,” she said.

Tough referendum campaigning is expected because those backing the UK leaving the EU include at least six breakaway Conservative Party ministers, the anti-Europe UK Independence Party (UKIP) and potential Conservative prime ministerial aspirant London Mayor Boris Johnson.

It is feared a “Yes” vote taking the UK out of Europe could lead to an exodus of money from the international financial powerhouse of the City of London and Scotland leaving the UK, while a “No” vote may not stop political sniping within the Conservatives.

Ms Rawlings said the High Commission, the UK’s embassy in Australia, would help expatriates register to vote and represent the Government in the campaign but it would be up to UKIP and others like Mr Johnson to decide whether to court the expatriate vote in Perth.

Voters will need to have a national insurance number, or other identification, and their British passport.

To vote, visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.