This April 2013 Connexion article on “What do French expat MPs do?”, has interesting answers from two of these MPs to the question “Why is it important for expats to have their own MPs?”
Axelle Lemaire is the Socialist French MP for the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania:
“It would be very strange for them not to have any political representation in the 21st century. It’s a question of democracy, and it brings an international view to political debate in France. It’s important that expats have someone to help them if they get stuck in a problem with no solution. I’m not a diplomat, I don’t represent France, I just defend my constituents in individual situations.”
Philip Cordery is the Socialist MP for Benelux (Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg):
“In the past, expats have not been represented, but they deserve political representation just like everybody else. They shouldn’t disappear from the democratic fabric. And expats are an increasing demographic, particularly in Europe. It isn’t just a question of big firms sending people abroad, a whole new generation of expats is growing up in the EU today.”
Axelle Lemaire who includes the UK within her expat constituency, also explains:
“Sometimes people don’t realise that I’m not an Irish or a British MP. I can’t intervene in British government. I can talk with British politicians, I can explain what’s happening to my constituents, but I can’t intervene politically on their behalf.”
In comparison, after more than 15 years abroad British citizens have no further democratic right to vote in UK national elections, or any such expat MPs to take on the responsibility for their representation. This needs to change when e.g. as MP Philip Cordery says “a whole new generation of expats is growing up in the EU today.”
If you are one of this new generation of British expats and agree the need for the right to make your voice heard, we would appreciate you adding your vote here in support in our on-line poll.
To add weight to our case for representation , if you are a British expatriate still able (after less than 15 years abroad) and planning to participate as an overseas voter in the 2015 general election, make sure that you can by registering to vote in your last constituency of residence via the Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.