The Mail Online article below reveals that the UK has the 8th highest expat rate in the world with 7% (4.5 million) of the British population living abroad and the top three destinations Australia (1.2 million), the US (700,000) and Canada (675,000).
The majority leave the UK for more than 4 years, with 62% of expats for reasons including formal study, looking for work or for a definite job in another country.
This does not make them disloyal citizens of the United Kingdom, particularly given the historical, cultural, family and strategic ties with Australia, the US and Canada. The Internet has also removed for these expats the previous constraints of physical distance on continuing ties with the UK.
This has now been recognised by the government in establishing the means to register on-line for expats to continue to vote (for up to 15 years) in UK national elections.
There is a critical need to improve on the current poor registration rates of British expats (historically only some 20,000 – 30,000) to encourage the government to go further and also remove the current 15-year-limit on our national voting rights, should the registration rates for the 2015 general election reach average constituency size (70,000 – 100,000).
Why not now add your supporting vote here for our campaign to remove the rather arbitrary and undemocratic 15-year-limit put on British citizens voting from abroad? It’s a way of showing our steadily growing support. Note that Australia, the US and Canada do not discriminate against their own expatriate citizens in this way.
The 4.5 million British expats is just a best estimate from a range of 4 to 5 million and in fact the IPPR’s report on Brits Abroad estimates 5.6 million.
That being so, the British government has no real idea about the number of these still able to vote and not excluded by the 15-year-rule and seems, therefore, to assume 50% as a best guess.
This lack of knowledge about those excluded by the 15-year-rule is not helped by the fact that once an overseas voter’s 15 years has expired, there is no longer a requirement to maintain a record.
The target of 70,000 – 100,000 registered overseas voters in time for the 2015 general election ,has nothing to do at this stage with having a dedicated MP for expats. It has been set together with MP/Peer supporters in Westminster to demonstrate to the political parties that a significant ( i.e. equivalent to over an average constituency size) body of British citizens living abroad does indeed want to continue to vote in UK national elections.
Numbers of UK Citizens overseas : who estimates 4.5M ? – can this figure be divided into those with current right to representation – 15 year rule , those who have actually lost this right whilst registered – 15 year rule – those who never registered as overseas UK Citizens . When I left UK I was not aware of the 20 year right to representation ( UK Gov. info fact sheets moving to France 1992 no mention ) it became visible only with the advent of internet ( for me ) .I attempted in 2011/12 to register as an overseas UK citizen but was refused by the 15 year rule .( The Registrar had my date of leaving UK !?) I countered that the relevent period was in fact 20 years on the basis that the Representation of the Peoples Act 1985 ammended 1989 to 20 years was the relevent Act . i did receive a legalistic reply on this indicating that Westminster Gov. can manipulate the law how it feels fit in effect by hiding issues under any other Act being passed whereby the MPs would find it difficult to find or understand – this case Political Parties Elections, Referendums Act 2000 page 141 ” ammend 20 years to 15 years ” Representation of the Peoples Act1989 . As an MP/ lord you would have had to look up that Act wade through “n” pages to find something that mentioned 20 years in the first place to know what that might refer too .To disenfranchise a UK Citizen then expect somehow to change the Westminster illusions of power is that Democratic .I am awaiting the Referendum Scotland 18 Sept 2014 which might change my rights to representation
‘expat registration rate – average constituency size ‘ What is that about surely a dedicated Westminster MP for expats isn’t still being bandied about – there are different jurisdictions in ‘UK’ . Letter received from THE CABINET OFFICE Westminster Aug 2014 ‘ The government is not minded to change the 15 year rule ‘ I repeat Westminster is all about POWER and spending money nothing to do with democracy after all where is there a problem with UK Citizens having the right to representation .