Brit expats in Europe angry over the Johnson letter to Harry Shindler

Published:  4 Mar at 6 PM
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The Johnson letter to Harry Schindler is causing expat anger.

Over a million British expats living all across Europe and thousands more across the world could well be forgiven for expressing their fury at Boris Johnson’s too little, too late letter to Harry Schindler, the founder of the unsuccessful until now campaign to allow long-stay British expats the right to vote to preserve their chosen lifestyles. Those affected had been resident outside the UK for over 15 years and were callously refused the vote in order to improve the Leave campaign’s chances, with the vote itself a classic example of political manouvering first described as an ‘advisory’ referendum.

The vast majority of British expatriates overseas, whether working, studying or retiring, emigrated with the understanding that the EU’s freedom of movement was their inviolable right, and many are still paying UK taxes, have close family ties with the home country and still care deeply about Britain’s national interest. Included in the 2010 Conservative election manifesto and repeated in 2015, 2017 and 2019 is the statement ‘get rid of the arbitrary 15 year limit on British expats’ parliamentary voting rights’.

Politicians playing with words to support their own take on the issue might well say the referendum wasn’t covered but, either way, the promise has been broken and it’s too late to amend its effects on British expats, not just in Europe but also across the world. In spite of heroic campaigns such as that led by 98-year old Harry Schindler MBE, the die is cast and throwing sops to Cerberus is heaping insult on injury. Britain’s present government is already known for its lies, and Johnson’s letter to Mr Shindler is yet another example of the same political manouvering which resulted in the referendum taking place.

If expats in the EU are asked at this present time how they feel about being allowed to vote in future UK elections, having already lost their inalienable right to free movement, how many would tell it like it is and point out their chosen lives are still at risk from Johnson’s decisions on the rights of EU expats in the UK? How many would just turn away, disgusted by the way they’ve been played and dreading what might well happen at the end of this year. A return to the no-deal Brexit scenario would rob millions of their remaining rights thus shutting the door after the horse has bolted, and what use at that point would be the right to vote?
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