Have your say, wherever you are in the world
Theresa May’s government plans to allow all British people living abroad to vote in UK elections, after excluding long-term expats in the Referendum. We value you and your ties to the global economic community, said a Minister
British people who have lived outside Great Britain for over 15 years have, up until now, been unable to vote in British elections. There are at least five million British expats living throughout the world, a large proportion of whom have been abroad for decades, and when it came to the Brexit Referendum in June, many were outraged at being disenfranchised in a vote that would have a direct impact on their status abroad. Thousands signed petitions to change the law, but the attempt failed.
Now a new proposal has been put forward by the government, which will still need to be passed at Westminster, that would change the rules in time for the next General Election in 2020.
The scrapping of the current 15-year limit for voting is an effort to strengthen ties with the British living abroad. Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution said: “British citizens who move abroad remain a part of our democracy and it is important they have the ability to participate… Our expat community has an important role to play in helping Britain expand international trade, especially given two-thirds of expats live outside the EU.” Mr. Skidmore also noted that with modern technology and cheap airfares, expats are better able to keep in touch with their home country, while many still have family living in the UK.
The votes-for-life movement was spearheaded by Harry Shindler, a 95-year old British war veteran living in Italy. Shindler has been unable to vote in the UK since 1997 due to the 15-year law, and is unable to vote in Italy either. He launched the legal challenge in the lead-up to the June referendum, but the application was rejected for judicial review by Lord Justice Lloyd Jones. Shindler made a recent statement saying he was, “pleased and grateful that Theresa May was committed to giving expats the right to vote by 2020.”
In the votes-for-life proposal, British citizens who were previous residents of the UK or were previously registered to vote will be eligible to vote in future parliamentary elections. Voting at local elections will not be allowed and it is undecided if the right to vote in future referendums will be granted. The proposed policy would benefit around three million British expats living overseas. It is generally considered that the new electorate would be a boost to the Conservative Party given the demographic of many retired expats.
“The proposed policy would benefit around three million British expats living overseas.”
The proposal will need to be passed in both Houses of Parliament before it becomes law, which is expected before 2020. A policy statement has been released with details of the proposed changes. For more information on expat life abroad, or moving and buying property in another country, why not call our Resource Centre today on 020 7898 0549 to discuss how to start making your dream a wonderful reality.