Archive for the ‘Expat Representation in EU’ 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.

How to Register to Vote in UK Elections

vendredi, janvier 10th, 2014

As we continue our struggle for unrestricted voting rights for all British expats, it is very important to get all those who are not affected by the arbitrary cut-off rule (currently 15 years), to register. If you have not lived outside the UK for 15 years or more we would urge you, and any of your colleagues and friends who are similarly qualified, to register!

Since British expats living in EU Member States may choose to vote in the European Parliament elections in the UK, instead of in their country of residence, it is worth registering as soon as possible, and at any rate before the European Parliament election registration deadline of 7th May 2014.

This is what you should do. You will need the postcode of your last address in the UK, and your current passport number and its place and date of issue.

Go to the Electoral Commission website and enter the postcode of your last address in the UK at which you were previously registered to vote. Click on GO in the green bar.

The next screen enables you to download the form, and tells you where to send it once you have printed it out, and completed and signed it.

If this is the first time that you have registered as an overseas (as opposed to UK-based) voter, you will need another British citizen to countersign the form as witness. The countersignatory must also provide his/her passport number and place and date of issue.

The form also enables you to register for a postal vote, or a proxy vote. We can provide help in both those areas, and with any queries connected with the registration process in general.

We hope this has been useful to you, and that you will take the important step of registering as soon as possible! Do feel free to forward this web page link to others who might be able to take advantage of it.

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 Expat Representation in the European Union.

dimanche, novembre 27th, 2011

Brian Cave, the originator of the campaigning group Pensioners Debout! in France, has written a thought provoking article on Why Political Representation is now so important to all ?Expatriate British? citizens now living in Europe, which should also provide interesting reading for eurosceptic Westminster MPs!

(Refer also to Categories/Chairmans Blog/Federal EU?/Tories & Europe in the right-hand index column)

Europe is in a special situation in the World.
Consider your position if the European Union ceased!
But first let us view Europe as part of a changing world. Political structures are changing fast. Much arises from the spirit of the younger generation, gaining power via the ease of social networking. Young professionals of all nationalities are talking to each other. Close bonds between people cross the ancient boundaries.
In Europe not only is this happening, but also the past enmities which tore Europe apart (and which the older generations remember extremely well) have virtually disappeared.
All these changes demand a new order of political structure.
BUT AT THIS TIME the British press and political commentators are pushing an anti-Europe theme.
What then would be your position if the European Union collapsed?
Before 1973*, any Briton living in continental Europe would be an absolute foreigner, totally dependent on the laws of the separate countries of Europe . You could not move freely in Europe from job to job, or live in one country and work in another. You would be unlikely to get a resident permit unless you could prove that you had sufficient funds to support yourself. You would have to provide yourself with full health cover by some means or another. The social security system would have been unlikely to support you. You would have no guarantee of permanent residence. Problems which might arise politically between the State of residence and the UK could force you to leave. Only through the treaties which have created the European Union can you be sure of your right to stay. These treaties are signed on your behalf by the UK . You are, whether you wish it or not, represented by the UK . But you cannot comment on your condition in any official manner without a representative MP in Parliament. The Government dictates to you what you can or cannot do.
The situation for the people who have retired from the UK to the Continent is, in these matters, extreme. Today there are 434,000 such citizens.
Normally all their income stems from the UK .
Many are by law taxed in the UK (ex -Military, Police, Firemen, Teachers, Local Authority staff).
The treaties relating to health cover mean that the costs of health cover (theoretically) are the responsibility of the UK .
They normally have families, grandchildren in the UK about whom they are concerned.
If Europe collapsed then these 434,000 elderly citizens could well be in a mess, with a difficult health care and financial situations.
Even the younger citizens abroad often have parents or siblings in the UK about whom they are concerned.
And above all, is there any citizen (old or young) who retains any attachment to Britain , not concerned about the performance of Britain in World Affairs?
Europe is indeed a very special case in the World. There are Continent wide European treaties which enable citizens to move freely between the States. Younger Britons often do so. The same Europe-wide treaties apply to them as they move. British Citizenship remains a constant in these moves. The British Citizen is an ambassador of British Culture ? however unwittingly. The British Government should recognise this fact. There should be a two-way flow of spirit and information between the British Government and the British Citizen. It sounds so obvious, but it does not exist!
A New Order. In Europe , it would seem desirable ? essential- that a form of communication should exist between the individual citizen, his/her nation, and the European Union by representation. If something goes amiss to whom would he/she seek redress? Fortunately one can go to the European Commission. Nevertheless would it not be welcome if the UK could and would consult those who are directly affected ? the British citizen in Europe ? by parliamentary representation? This could be achieved by an MP directly elected by these citizens. Through such an MP or MPs, the citizen can relate directly to Government and this would change the current attitude of dictate from Government to one of consultation with the Citizen Abroad.
Conclusions. Seek appropriate Representation, eventually by elected MPs. for citizens abroad. A new order of representation will take time to achieve but it will come faster if you make it known that you desire the British Government to take notice of you and your needs by at the first step guaranteeing a vote for life for some form of representation
Send your opinion to Mark Harper, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA get others to sign up and comment on

* Notes on demographic changes since 1973. When the UK joined the EU, the number of elderly British citizens on the continent has grown from extremely few ? almost zero in most countries ? to 102,000 in Spain, 55,000 in France, about 38,000 in both Germany and Italy and 9,000 in Portugal The numbers in Cyprus are now growing rapidly and number 17,600, increasing by over 12% in the last year alone. Ireland has 123,000.
The exact figures can be obtained via the Dept. of Works and Pensions tables

Brian Cave,
originator of