British government finally overturns 15 year expat voting exclusion

Published:  7 Oct at 6 PM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
Tagged: UK, Citizenship, England
Three million British expats who’ve lived overseas for more than 15 years are about to be given the right to a lifetime vote.

In the Conservative Party’s 2015 election manifesto, these disenfranchised expats were promised by David Cameron that the rule would finally be scrapped. The run-up to the Brexit referendum saw an unsuccessful High Court legal challenge fail, and those worst affected by the vote were left without any means to influence the referendum result. One thing is certain, had the 15-year rule been abolished before the referendum, Britain would not now be facing the massive task of withdrawing from the EU without totally wrecking its economy.

UK media responses to the government’s sudden rush to keep their election manifesto promise are already suggesting the move is part of a strategy to empower the Tory Party before the reality of Brexit kicks in. Politically aware expats living in EU member states are likely to see the speed of the move as a cynical political strategy to keep the Tories in power and turn the focus from their Brexit worries.

The change will need to be approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords before it can be activated, and will apply to future general elections. Expats will be able to cast postal votes in their former constituency of residence, although the easier and potentially more secure option of online registration and voting hasn’t yet been mentioned. How many will have the inclination to vote in 2020 due to the effects on their lives of Britain’s EU divorce is not yet known.

During the run-up to the referendum, calls for the rule to be changed in time for those it affected to cast their votes were ignored, with the excuse given that officials would find it too difficult to verify voters’ previous constituencies as individual voter records were deleted after 15 years. No hints are given in today’s government announcement as to how these difficulties have been dealt with.

Honeyed words from Britain’s constitutional minister Chris Skidmore included his statement that UK citizens living overseas remain a part of the British democracy, making it important they are able to vote. Skidmore added British citizens living overseas have an important role in the country’s post-Brexit expansion of international trade, especially as two-thirds of expats are domiciled outside the EU.

Skidmore failed to mention that, post-Brexit and dependent on the two years of negotiation, a good number of his ‘expat ambassadors’ may well be forced to return to the UK. Theresa May is refusing to guarantee the right to remain in the UK of EU migrants, a stance which could well result in like-for-like retaliation by EU member state governments.
Like this news?

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Latest Headlines

News Links

News Archive