Expats in Spain post call for dedicated MP

Published:  18 Apr at 9 AM
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Due to the inefficiency of its consulates and embassies as regards advice and updates regarding Brexit, British expats in Spain are calling for their very own PM to represent their interests.

Some 5 million Britons live in expatriate destinations worldwide, many of whom will need consular assistance as some time during their stay overseas and the majority of whom are long term residents aged between 15 and 64 years. This statistic refutes the image of the typical British expat as a pensioner living the good life on a budget somewhere in Spain or France. In this sense, Europe isn’t just a destination, it’s also an employer for up to a million Britons, but none of this high number are allowed any say in crucial decisions taken on their behalf by British lawmakers.

For the British diaspora across the world, Brexit is the imperfect example of a chronic lack of official information on decisions affecting all of their lives, along with the fact that contacting their former MPs can only be done during the 15 years before disenfranchisement kicks in. Renouncing British citizenship is one, drastic for many, way to be heard, but isn’t the answer to the overall problem of overworked constituency MPs attempting to deal with disenchanted expats as well as local people who might not re-elect them should they be ignored.

The idea of creating MPs for British expats overseas isn’t new, as France has already put a workable system in place. Eleven French parliamentary seats are reserved for lawmakers representing French citizens living overseas, with delegates not just playing a decisive part in government but also representing huge regional constituencies such as Southern and Northern Europe. Going one better in the traditional French manner, the Assembly of French Citizens Abroad is there for all French citizens living outside the home country as well as advising the government on issues which affect them, no matter where they live.

Other countries including Macedonia and Italy allow representation of expat citizens, and even the USA is now considering calls for its nine million expatriates to have their own representation. The British diaspora has spread to all corners of the globe, but is still, in essence, British. Regional representation would make expat votes far more relevant, and would at least be a step towards closing the huge electoral hole which removes the right to be heard and to have one’s opinions taken seriously. Voting may well be an individual right but, like all human rights, it not be arbitrarily removed for political convenience.
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