Archive for the ‘Expat Voting rights’ Category

EU Referendum Bill: Lord Lexden Supports Amendment to include all UK Citizens in other EU Member States

mardi, novembre 3rd, 2015

This is the speech made by Alistair Lexden in the Lord?s yesterday (2nd November, 2015) afternoon in support of an amendment to the European Referendum Bill seeking to give the right to vote in the referendum to all UK citizens living in other EU member states.

Lord Lexden (Con): My Lords, the noble Lords who have tabled these amendments have performed a most valuable service which has wider international dimensions, as my noble friend Lord Flight and others have pointed out. I have strongly and consistently supported the removal of the arbitrary 15-year limit on the right of our fellow countrymen and women living overseas to vote in our parliamentary elections?a right first conferred by Margaret Thatcher?s Government. I urged its removal in my first speech in this Chamber in early 2011. I tabled amendments to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill in 2013 in order to press the case for change. I took part in subsequent discussions on overseas voting arrangements in a cross-party group chaired by my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth?a group in which my noble friend Lord Tyler played a conspicuous part.

I was delighted when my party included an unambiguous commitment in its recent general election manifesto to sweep away the iniquitous 15-year bar. Swift implementation of that commitment would have dealt with all the aspects of this issue, both as regards the parliamentary franchise and, as a direct consequence, the forthcoming EU referendum. However, the Bill to give effect to the unambiguous Tory commitment has not even been published. I was greatly taken aback to be told, in answer to an Oral Question in July, that there was no certainty whatever that the Bill would reach the statute book before the referendum took place?and it has become even less certain since then. This is deeply disappointing. Nothing could have been more precisely predictable than the emergence of the huge problem with which we are now confronted if swift and early action was not taken.

It is extremely unfortunate, to put it mildly, that work was not set in hand at the earliest opportunity. The Tory pledge was made in September last year. A branch of the Conservative Party?s organisation with which I am closely connected, Conservatives Abroad, has two outstanding experts on all the issues involved in extending the right to vote to all British citizens living overseas. They could have helped prepare the way for the Bill, which, if it were now before Parliament, would have prevented the wholly foreseeable problem that the amendments seek to address; unresolved, it will inflict great injustice on a significant number of our fellow countrymen and countrywomen overseas.

It simply cannot be right to hold a referendum in which some British citizens living in another EU member state or elsewhere in the world are able to take part, while others are excluded because they happen to have been absent from our shores for more than 15 years. The outcome within the EU will affect them all equally and profoundly. It will surely be incomprehensible to our fellow citizens living abroad that an election manifesto commitment cannot be implemented by one means or another in time for them to participate in a vote of such overwhelming importance for the nation to which they belong.

We need to imagine ourselves in the shoes of Harry Shindler, to whom the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, paid tribute, and our other fellow countrymen and countrywomen who have been living overseas for over 15 years and have retained a strong sense of British identity. How would we feel about being excluded from this momentous referendum while those who have not reached the 15-year limit can take part? The Bill should be returned to the other place and amended in order to include British citizens who have been living overseas for more than 15 years. In that way, we would uphold the principle enshrined in the Conservative election manifesto.

UK drive to recruit 100,000 expat voters – The Telegraph

samedi, février 28th, 2015

The Electoral Commission has set itself a tough pre-election target, but disillusioned expats are unlikely to bite, according to campaigners in this Telegraph article of 3 February, 2015.

Shouldn’t campaigners feel more confident given the support by the Conservative party headed by the Prime Minister below?

« Mr Cameron sent a mass email to expats on the party mailing list, telling them they could hold the key to the Conservatives winning the next election. The party has pledged to restore voting rights to all Britons overseas if it wins. Currently expats lose their right to vote once they have been out of the country for 15 years. »

Chasing the Wrong Target – by Michael Webster

mardi, août 20th, 2013

Considerable efforts have been devoted in recent years to obtain the right to vote for those who have been expatriates for more than 15 years, although most of these may be thought to have lost their links with any constituency back home and the ability to choose between the candidates for election there.

A far more important problem is this. There are estimated to be about 5 – 6 million British citizens living abroad, of whom 1.5 million or 30% are not eligible to vote. Let us suppose that half a million are underage, leaving 1 million deprived by the 15-year-ruling.

According to a recent Parliamentary Commission, of the 3.5 million entitled to vote only 20,000, yes 20,000 , are registered to vote. Surely this is the real problem. How to get those who have already the right to do so to exercise that right rather than seek it for those who have been expatriates for countless years.

Michael Webster

The Wrong Battle by Michael Webster

jeudi, décembre 27th, 2012

Leading figures in the British community in France and in our own British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP) are struggling, to little effect, to obtain voting rights for citizens living abroad but this is of minor importance compared with another struggle which may confront them.

The efforts to gain voting rights are for those who have lived abroad for more than 15 years: not the right to vote for MPs who would defend the rights of expatriates, a privilege which French citizens abroad enjoy, but a vote in whatever constituency with which they may feel an affinity, even though they may not know the MP’s name or the major concerns of his constituents.

No, I write of another threatened struggle. A year ago I was treating threats of Britain voting to leave the European Union as a diverting quirk, typical of my countrymen. Now it is dawning on me that the threat is becoming a real one. The Economist this week also turns its attention to the matter, devoting its cover and two principal articles to the subject.

Both in the populace and in political circles it is taking on an immediacy which should give us serious concern. Apart from all the diplomatic, political, economic and trade issues at stake and whatever your views on them, Britain’s leaving the EU might have considerable repercussions on British citizens living on the Continent. Without being any sort of authority on the subject, I would wager that there would be increased financial difficulties and bureaucratic problems ten years down the road regarding ?cartes de sejours?, importing of household goods, health insurance, pensions etc., all of which would have to be re-negotiated.

I will not expatiate here on the advantages and disadvantages it would have for Britain. The Economist says our departure from Europe is becoming ?ever more possible?. Despite the fact that the leaders of the three main political parties, business leaders and the trade unions all want to stay in, 80 M.P.s of our Conservative party are pressing for a referendum and the polls say that over 50% of the population would vote in favour of leaving and only 30% would vote for staying.

So, I believe this to be more of an issue (than voting rights) on which we should be considering with great concern.

British Expatriate Voting Rights

lundi, juin 20th, 2011

Those of us British expatriates who have been non-resident in the UK for more than 15 years are thereby denied the right to vote in our country of origin, even though we might remain British citizens and the UK our country of domicile for tax purposes.
There is now more encouragement for those who still value this basic human right to vote, however, from the launch of a new website in support of a campaign to enable all British expatriates to be able to participate fully in the political process in their home country, by giving them unrestricted voting rights in national elections.
Click on the above link to browse through the issues of the legal position, how other countries treat the voting rights of their expatriates, the view of the European institutions concerned, British parliamentary discussions on voting rights, media buzz about denying British expats the right to vote and how two concerned British expatriates – James Preston and Harry Shindler – have legal cases on their voting rights before the courts.
All you then have to do on the website is to add your vote to an on-line poll to show your support for this campaign.