UK expats still disallowed from voting in general election

Published:  24 May at 6 PM
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Last October, the British government promised British expats who’d lived overseas for more than 15 years they would be able to vote in the next general election.

Next month’s shock UK general election is perhaps one of the most significant of the past several decades, as it’s clearly linked to Britain’s divorce from the EU. In spite of the Tory government’s assurance late last year to disenfranchised expats who’d not been able to vote for their own futures in the Brexit referendum, they are still unable to vote on June 8.

Historically, UK general elections have been used to demote leaders who’ve reneged on their manifesto promises or reward leaders who’ve fulfilled them. This election will be completely different, in that, due to the chaos surrounding the surprise Brexit referendum result, the unelected Tory leader Theresa May has little in the way of a record to study when deciding how to vote. However, as regards her lack of concern for the expat position after Brexit, the breaking of her government’s promise to end the 15-year disenfranchisement rule gives a clear indication of her lack of care.

Put simply, the promise made last October was a convenient lie. At the time, the Cabinet’s press release was enthusiastically titled ‘Government delivers on pledge to give back British expats the right to vote’. Putting aside the fact that a policy statement is not the delivery of a pledge, plus the fact that six months is long enough to deliver a pledge, the Cabinet’s account now reads like a downright lie. UK expats who were barred from voting on Brexit are now barred from making their views on May’s version of Brexit fully and rightly known, even although they will possibly be amongst the worst affected when the UK divorce is finalised.

This years’ Tory manifesto has the blatant cheek to promise, yet again, that long-stay expats’ rights to vote will be renewed. It’s possible that, allowing for more ‘important’ matters cropping up, parliament may even get round to reversing the disenfranchisement rule. By that time, those Brit expats who weren’t able to have their say in the destruction of their lives may well be living miserably back in the home country. It seems unlikely they would even consider voting Tory again.
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