The most negative trend identified in this expatriate quality of life study featured in The Telegraph – Top 12 countries where British expats say they are wealthiest and healthiest – concerns Europe:
“Austerity measures and fears over job security were prompting 63pc of British expats in Europe to consider returning to the UK, according to the index, while a third of expats in France (31pc) said they would move back to the UK permanently.”
Considering the estimated 1 million or so expatriate British citizens resident within the European Union, it’s surprising then that so few seem to have ever registered as overseas voters (worldwide only some 20,000 – 30,000 or 1% of the total) and concerned, therefore, about future developments in a United Kingdom to which they could return. There would be further pressure from any referendum in 2017 on Britain’s continuing membership of the European Union (EU).
With the next general election soon in May 2015, a convenient on-line voter registration system now available and an increase of 17 to 25 days in the postal voting cycle, surely now is the time to boost the number of overseas voters from within the EU at least? The postal system between the UK and France for example should be able to handle prompt despatch of voting papers, reception, completion and return within 25 days.
There is also the prospect of removal of the current 15-year-limit on overseas voting rights, the pressure for which could be further developed within all the political parties if the registered expatriate voter base could be expanded to a much more politically significant 70,000 – 100,000 (equivalent to an average constituency size or more).