[UK] ‘Votes for life’ proposed for expats

[UK] ‘Votes for life’ proposed for expats
02 Jun 2021

The UK government has decided to do away with a rule that prevents British people from voting in elections if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years, The Brussels Times reports.

The measure was included in the recent Queen’s Speech and has been clarified in a statement by the British Embassy in Brussels.

At present, British people living abroad are permitted to vote only if they were registered to vote in the past 15 years. Beyond that deadline, they cannot vote. But many British expats such as long-serving EU officials or British retirees in Portugal have been living abroad for longer.

Though they can apply for residency in their adopted country and obtain voting rights there, issues in UK elections may still be of importance to them in their working or private lives.

The most important example of that in recent years occurred when long-term expats in the EU were banned from voting in a 2016 Brexit referendum that would arguably impact their lives more than the lives of many Britons at home.

“Decisions made in the UK Parliament on foreign policy, defence, immigration, pensions and trade deals affect British citizens who live overseas,” the embassy statement said. “It is therefore right that they have a say in UK Parliamentary General Elections.”

The changes will form part of the forthcoming Elections Bill, which will allow expats to remain registered to vote for longer and put in place an absentee voting plan.

“In an increasingly global and connected world, most British citizens living overseas retain deep ties to the United Kingdom. Many still have family here, have a history of hard work in the UK behind them, and some have even fought for our country,” Lord True - minister of state for the Cabinet Office - said.

“These measures support our vision for a truly Global Britain, opening up our democracy to British citizens living overseas who deserve to have their voices heard in our Parliament, no matter where they choose to live.”

“This is great news for all UK nationals living in Belgium. The issue of having the right to vote for life has been raised many times during my conversations with British nationals in Belgium, so I understand how important this is for them,” Martin Shearman - the British ambassador to Belgium - said.

“This will ensure that Brits in Belgium, who still have deep ties with the UK, can continue to participate in the British democratic process, no matter how long ago they left the UK.”


Source: The Brussels Times

The UK government has decided to do away with a rule that prevents British people from voting in elections if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years, The Brussels Times reports.

The measure was included in the recent Queen’s Speech and has been clarified in a statement by the British Embassy in Brussels.

At present, British people living abroad are permitted to vote only if they were registered to vote in the past 15 years. Beyond that deadline, they cannot vote. But many British expats such as long-serving EU officials or British retirees in Portugal have been living abroad for longer.

Though they can apply for residency in their adopted country and obtain voting rights there, issues in UK elections may still be of importance to them in their working or private lives.

The most important example of that in recent years occurred when long-term expats in the EU were banned from voting in a 2016 Brexit referendum that would arguably impact their lives more than the lives of many Britons at home.

“Decisions made in the UK Parliament on foreign policy, defence, immigration, pensions and trade deals affect British citizens who live overseas,” the embassy statement said. “It is therefore right that they have a say in UK Parliamentary General Elections.”

The changes will form part of the forthcoming Elections Bill, which will allow expats to remain registered to vote for longer and put in place an absentee voting plan.

“In an increasingly global and connected world, most British citizens living overseas retain deep ties to the United Kingdom. Many still have family here, have a history of hard work in the UK behind them, and some have even fought for our country,” Lord True - minister of state for the Cabinet Office - said.

“These measures support our vision for a truly Global Britain, opening up our democracy to British citizens living overseas who deserve to have their voices heard in our Parliament, no matter where they choose to live.”

“This is great news for all UK nationals living in Belgium. The issue of having the right to vote for life has been raised many times during my conversations with British nationals in Belgium, so I understand how important this is for them,” Martin Shearman - the British ambassador to Belgium - said.

“This will ensure that Brits in Belgium, who still have deep ties with the UK, can continue to participate in the British democratic process, no matter how long ago they left the UK.”


Source: The Brussels Times

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