Brit expat local councillors forced by Brexit to stand down

Published:  31 Jan at 6 PM
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Community-minded British expats are furious at losing not only the vote but also their entitlement to involvement in their local areas.

One effect of Brexit which hasn’t been made much of in the media is that British expats in Europe who’ve integrated to the extent of serving on local councils must now give up their involvement in the local expat community. Not only that, but they’re now banned from voting, even although they’re permanent residents and pay tax in their chosen country.

In one small German village, local mayor Iain MacNab is cutting short his third term after having been informed his voting rights and his right to hold the position will end once the UK is no longer an EU member state. Across Europe, British expats have involved themselves in their local communities as well as voting in local elections, although they may have lived in Europe for over 15 years and are banned from voting in the home country as a result.

For some, becoming citizens of their chosen EU member state may be the answer, but a good number can’t meet the requirements and others simply can’t see themselves as German, French, Italian or suchlike. Many more haven’t realised they’d lose their vote yet again, and are now waking up to the fact that their active participation in their chosen community is at an end. When asked by local media, Mr McNab said German citizenship wasn’t for him as he may return to Scotland in the future and would need to be able to access the NHS.

According to a representative of France’s Interior Ministry, some 757 British expats are now serving on local councils, more than any other group of expats. Municipal elections are to be held in March, but all will be forced to resign unless they’ve received French citizenship in the meantime. One British woman living in a small French village is angry that her six-year stint as an elected councillor will be forced to end, especially as she feels strangers have made her lifestyle choice invalid by voting Leave.
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