Brit expats angry over failure of Votes for Life bill

Published:  6 Jun at 6 PM
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The Overseas Electors Bill has failed due to party political manipulation.

With the possibility of a second referendum as well as a general election on the cards, British expats who’d lived overseas for more than 15 years had been given hope by the support given to the Votes for Life’ bill as it came closer and closer to its vote in the House. The Private Members’ Bill had the support of government ministers and expat groups across the world, and had won government backing in its previous two readings. Everyone who’d been struggling for fair play for expats was almost certain the bill would pass.

Thanks to shameful political manoeuvering on the part of Conservative MP Phillip Davies and his co-conspirators in the Labour Party, the bill which brought hope to many thousands of British expats is now dead in the water. Using a tactic known as a fillibuster, Davies proceeded to argue the merits of all Labour’s previous amendments and additions until there was no time left for the actual vote, causing it to be dropped.

According to senior lecturer at Sussex University Dr Susan Collard, the straightforward issue of overseas voters’ rights is still being dominated by party politics. As was feared almost a year ago, partisan interests prevented informed discussion of the bill’s core issues, leading to the continuing disenfranchisement of those who will be worst affected - British expats overseas. The bill, she said, is now dead, but the issue itself will not die with it, as determined expat campaigners will intensify their battle for electoral justice.

Collard believes those Conservatives in favour of the bill should have realised dealing with the complicated issue via a single, supposedly non- political presentation was an error of judgement which proved counter-productive, especially in the present-day hung parliament. Social media comments are linking the bill’s deliberately manoeuvered failure with the likelihood of tens of thousands of extra Remain votes should a second referendum take place, with others simply saying they’ve lost all hope.
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