Specific MPs to Represent British Expats?

Radio 4, The Today programme: British expat Brian Cave and Labour peer, Lord Lipsey discuss whether it is time the UK followed the French example of having MPs specifically to represent expatriates.
At the end, the interviewer summed it up that Brian Cave faced an uphill struggle in these straightened times, Labour peer Lord Lipsey having introduced the cost element involved in following the French example of adding a number of extra MPs to represent expatriates. Lord Lipsey on the other hand, seemed rather insular and dismissive in saying “what happens in France is no guide to what happens here”.The discussion unfortunately didn’t include staying with the current system in the UK of overseas voters continuing to vote in the constituencies where they were last registered, but with the 15 year limit removed and, therefore, no real difference in the current costs involved.

Lord Lipsey’s main objection is that it is right that (only) British citizens living here (in the UK, paying council tax & spending money in our shops etc.) get to choose the government of Great Britain, which implies that he also does not agree with expats having a vote at all, irrespective of how long they have been away.

The tax aspect is not valid as Brian Cave pointed out since he continues to pay UK income tax on his teacher’s pension. The British government has also responded that the right to vote is not necessarily related to paying tax since some foreign nationals resident in the UK and paying taxes also cannot vote. Interestingly, for historical reasons some other foreign nationals e.g. Irish or Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK can vote but not, according to election law, British citizens who have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years.

Removing the tax element from the discussion then, Lord Lipsey’s objection is that only if you live in the UK do you as a British citizen get to choose the government of Great Britain, but which denies the right to vote for democratic representation for many of his fellow but expatriate British citizens.

An open letter to Lord David Lipsey

This entry was posted in Europe, Expat pensioners' rights, Specific Expat MPs?, Voting Rights. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Specific MPs to Represent British Expats?

  1. Pingback: Need to Change Political Attitudes to Overseas Voters. | Votes for Expat Brits blog

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