Expat fury as votes for life left out of Queens Speech

Published:  22 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: France, Visas, UK, Euro, England
Despite its being a Tory party promise in the last two UK elections, the long-awaited expat ‘votes for life’ was not included in the Queen’s Speech at the opening of the present parliament.

The traditional Queen’s Speech, read out by the monarch at the opening of each new UK parliament, is somewhat of a misnomer as it’s written by the majority party election winners and simply handed to Her Majesty to read out during the ceremony. The document outlines the new parliament’s legislative priorities during the upcoming sessions, and covers all plans up until the date of the next general election.

Nowhere in the current 82 page document is the ending of the 15-year voting limit for expats mentioned, in spite of its inclusion in the 2015 Speech and in the Conservative manifesto. The failure of former prime minister Cameron’s government to implement the long-awaited change meant long-stay British expats living overseas were unable to make their views known during the past two general elections and, crucially, in the Brexit referendum in spite of its disastrous effects on their lives.

The news that, yet again, the promise has been broken by a Conservative government is causing fury in expat communities across Europe and beyond. One local English language newspaper has already sent a request to the Cabinet Office for an explanation as to why ‘votes for life’ has not been included in this current parliament’s bill. Meanwhile, French barrister Julien Fouchet is continuing with his mission of challenging the legality of the Brexit referendum.

His case is based on the fact that long-term expats’ disenfranchisement from voting in a matter which could seriously affect their lives is clearly unfair as well as breaking EU rulings supporting equal treatment for British residents in the UK and British expats in Europe. His aim is to have the referendum ruled as illegal and re-run to allow all Britons to take part, no matter how long they’ve lived overseas.

According to Fouchet, it’s a tricky task to get the EU’s general court to permit his case to proceed, but a request via the Connextions English language newspaper for information from affected expats has produced helpful results. Following his call for written proof from those affected he’s received over a hundred written statements from long-stay Britons in France who are angry they were unable to vote.

He’s replied to every one, giving them the option to join him in a class action, but few are prepared to commit. To persuade more to take part, he’s drastically limiting his fees and capping the total amount necessary, adding that, should the case succeed, compensation is likely to be paid to all those involved.
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