Harry Shindler and other impacted EU-resident British expatriate citizens who are currently excluded by the 15-year-rule from voting in UK general elections, are quite rightly concerned (see the sample below of recent comments received) at not being able to vote in the Referendum on Britain’s continuing membership of the European Union (EU).
They have good reason to protest not least because the qualifying franchise contained in the European Union(Referendum) Bill as first published for debate (click on link below) has already been extended beyond that of a General Election to include:
- Clause 2 (b): Peers normally disqualified from voting at parliamentary elections.
- Clause 2 (c): Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar and normally only qualified to vote in European Parliamentary elections.
European Union (Referendum) Bill
The (Non-)Right of Peers to vote in General Elections
See below a sample of our latest comments received:
Rod – 28th May
The UK government could be ‘shooting themselves in the foot’, just imagine if 2 million ex-pats descended on the UK burdening the NHS with all our various ailments, claiming benefits, etc. etc.
Seriously though, as a loyal English subject I feel totally let down by Cameron and his cohorts, we should have the right to vote in the EU referendum.
Currently in Portugal.
Valerie Stacey – 28th May
I am a British national married to a Spaniard and have lived in Madrid for over 30 years, although I’m in close touch with the UK and go back several times a year. I was disenfranchised years ago in Britian, and am unable to vote in general and regional elections in Spain precisely because my nationality is British, not Spanish. There is no justification whatever for denying long-term British residents in other EU countries the right to vote in a referendum whose outcome will affect us directly – and possibly negatively. How is it possible that a Briton who has lived, say, for 10 years in Canada or New Zealand is given the chance to have their say on Britain’s future relationship with Europe but not those of us who actually live in the EU?
David H. – 28th May
I live in Germany. As others have mentioned, as a Brit I’m not allowed to vote in German national elections, and due to having lived here now for 25 years, it seems I have no say in an election that is being trumpeted as ultimately sealing the fate of Britain’s (and consequently my) membership of the EU. This is just wrong.
Alexander Maisner – 28th May
Have been living in Germany for almost 40 years. Incensed that I cannot vote in the referendum. Have been incensed for years that I cannot vote in either UK or German national elections. Let’s hope the government finally fulfills its pledge. See my letter to the FT of 28 May 2015.
Verity Peterson – 27th May
Have been living in Spain for 35 years. Of course we should be allowed to vote in an EU referendum. And all foreign nationals living in the EU should be able to vote in the national and regional elections of the country they live and work in. At the moment we’re effectively disenfranchised, although as many others have already said, the governments we can’t vote for are very happy to collect our taxes.
Adrian Cook – 27th May
Resident in Sweden since 1996. Worked for an international company and retired in 2007. As a British citizen I consider that it is my right to vote in any referendum concerning UK membership of the EU.
Caroline Johnston – 27th May
I have lived and worked in Rome, Italy for over 40 years. I am a British Citizen with a British passport and strong links with Britain. Here in Italy I can only vote in municipal elections or for the European Parliament while the country of my birth denies me the vote. The 15 year rule must be abolished so that we expat British are no longer disenfranchised.
Alastair McNeil – 26th May
I have been living in Milan for 8 years, prior to which I lived for a total of 12 years on Paris and 2 and a half years in Brussels. When I initially lived in Brussels and sought to vote in UK general elections I learned of this unfair rule (which is astounding when seeing how other European countries permit their citizens overseas/abroad to vote) and as a consequence I disengaged completely from UK politics. I am however incensed that on the EU referendum the UK government is proposing to apply these same rules – the potential decision of the UK to leave the EU would open up significant legal uncertainty to all those UK nationals outside the UK in other member states, it is clearly wrong that our voice is not heard.
Shane Swift – 26th May
Resident in Spain since 1991. Paid UK tax for the first few years as a British Council employee, Spanish tax ever since. I voted for as long as I could. Proud to be ‘Promoting Britain Abroad’ and part of what is probably Britain’s most successful export industry – the English language. Now betrayed by my own government. We all know this is wrong, so what can we do about it?
Peter Vernon – 26th May
I have lived in France for the last 24 years, I pay taxes here but cannot vote except in municipal elections, nor can I vote in UK. In short I’m disenfranchized. I am a British citizen, have never wanted to change my nationality, and have spent my life teaching English Literature to foreign students. The referendum on whether to stay in the European Union is of vital concern to all British Citizens, particularly those of us who live within the European Union. It is surely not difficult to correct this injustice.
Notwithstanding page 49 Tory manefesto the reduction from 20 years to 15 years was a single line amendment tacked onto miscelaneous of an Act2000 Political Parties Elections Referendums so methinks the Westminster Gov can discuss and vote on a single line amendment to the 2000 Act ” amend 15 years to life ” RoP 1985/89:on the first bill passing through currently . To fail to carry this out is an absolute disenfranchisement by the Westminster Gov.of TODAY and surely be a right to redress through the courts