UK Tory party pledges end to expat 15 year disenfranchisement

Published:  3 Sep at 6 PM
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In their manifesto for the 2015 general election, the Conservative Party has announced it will scrap the unpopular rule preventing expats who’ve lived overseas for over 15 years from voting in UK general elections.

Britain is one of few EU member states which enforce disenfranchisement for expat citizens, with the rule causing anger and resentment amongst many UK expat communities. Retired citizens living overseas believe that their contribution to their home country over their working lives entitles them to have a lifelong say in its political future.

According to a Tory Party spokesperson, millions of Brits permanently live and working overseas, with most having close family back in the UK. The spokesperson blamed the opposition party for cutting the cap to 15 years in 2000, and promised to abolish it should the Tories win the next election.

A statement from Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps stressed the lifelong right of British citizens to be protected by the Foreign Office and the military as well as the right to travel freely on a British passport. Those still waiting for their passport renewals due to the chaos caused by changes in the way they are issued might be less than impressed.

Embassy and consulate services were also mentioned as the lifetime right of British citizens living overseas. However, the results of a recent expat survey are reported to have heavily criticised uncaring, expensive services and a total lack of effective emergency assistance.

Although long-term campaigners for the abolition of compulsory disenfranchisement will be overjoyed at their success, an even larger group of UK expat pensioners are still protesting against the frozen pensions scandal. The highly controversial policy applies to over half a million retirees, many of whom are in extreme poverty as a result.
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