Calling all Expats! voting rights review

The restriction on voting in UK elections for any UK citizen who has not lived in the country for more than 15 years is to be scrapped, according to Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution.

This was an issue which cropped up a number of times during the referendum campaign – and by no means all of the frustrated expats unable to vote were remain supporters. The Campaign for an Independent Britain received a number of e-mails from expats who were very upset to be denied the chance to vote to take the UK out of the EU.

The statement mentioned elections but not referendums. It also talked of people who “have lived in the UK”. In other words, it does not appear to cover British citizens who have never lived here.

The comments to articles about this proposed reform therefore unsurprisingly indicate that not everyone is thrilled by this planned change, but it does go some way towards addressing a frustration felt by  a number of people who contacted our organisation durng the referendum period.

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5 comments

  1. PaulReply

    What I have seen is that many “model European citizens” exercising their right to free movement across EU member states will lose the voting rights in the “home” state, and will need to change citizenship to their “host” state in order to gain rights where they live.
    I have lived across many EU states for over 20 years. All are hosting me British Citizen (European), it should not be necessary to consider changing citizenship. Clearly I have no voting rights in the UK and obviously no voting rights in any of the countries where I reside.
    Arguably correct that I cannot vote where I reside as the governance in my temporary host nation is of little importance.
    For European Elections however, whilst in theory I should have rights through the electoral role, the reality I have seen is that the mechanisms are not understood by local authorities, to the point that I have not been able to vote in any European Election.
    Rather farcical that European Citizens (as the EU would have us referred) need to change citizenship.

  2. PaulReply

    What I have seen is that many “model European citizens” exercising their right to free movement across EU member states will lose the voting rights in the “home” state, and will need to change citizenship to their “host” state in order to gain rights where they live.
    I have lived across many EU states for over 20 years. Clearly I have no voting rights in the UK and obviously no voting rights in any of the countries where I reside.
    Arguably correct that I cannot vote where I reside as the governance in my temporary host nation is of little importance.
    For European Elections however, whilst in theory I should have rights through the electoral role, the reality I have seen is that the mechanisms are not understood by local authorities, to the point that I have not been able to vote in any European Election.
    Rather farcical that European Citizens (as the EU would have us referred) need to change citizenship.

  3. Gordon WebsterReply

    I can think of no objection to US citizens living abroad having the vote, because they still pay US Taxes. I can think of plenty objections to expat British people being allowed to vote, if they do not pay British Taxes. They do not live here, they do not know the state of the country, and their opinions may be swayed by the community they live in.

  4. AnonymousReply

    I am of the opinion that only single nationality British should allowed to vote at all or hold a public office. Split allegiances can be hard to balance and if we want the exit from the EU to succeed we need people with their backs to the wall and not one eye on the exit of a 2nd nationality.

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