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Let us know if you’ve had difficulties similar to British expatriate Dan Almond (who comments below) in trying to vote as an overseas elector in the recent 2017 General Election:
“My wife and I live in Italy and have done since Sept 2015. We are residents.”
“We decided to register to vote in the 2017 General Election with Wandsworth Borough Council (Tooting constituency was our last UK address).”
“We received confirmation by email from WBC on 8 May that our registration had been successful.”
“We chose to vote by post rather proxy and informed WBC by email on 11 May.”
“Having received nothing by 30 May I rang WBC and was told that our postal votes would go out in the next few days. I responded by saying hadn’t they left it rather late to do this. They didn’t think so saying it was being delivered first class.”
“We received our postal votes at lunchtime of June 8 leaving us no time at all to return it.”
“I feel (and have told them so) that Wandsworth Electoral Services left this far too late (as proven by the date we received them) and effectively denied us the right to vote in the election. I have contacted the returning officer, the head of Electoral Services at WBC, and both the Labour and Conservative candidates (both of whom thought it was appalling).”
“I am left wondering how many other overseas voters lost out in the same way and where we stand? “
In support of our campaign to secure voting rights for all British citizens living aboard, we are encouraging the British expat community to complete this survey of British citizens over the age of 18 who are resident outside the UK. It is part of a research project run by Dr Susan Collard, from the Politics Department of the University of Sussex. You will be able to see the survey results in due course at: https://www.facebook.com/britonsabroad/
The survey has three aims. The first is to collect some general data on the British who live abroad, such as age, gender, place of residence, level of education, when and why they left the UK and whether or not they might return.
The second aim is to investigate awareness of, and views on, UK voting rights and practices, with particular reference to the EU referendum, the 2015 and upcoming “snap” June 2017 general elections.
The third aim is to seek responses to the prospect of Brexit, not just from those who live in other EU countries but from elsewhere in the world as well.
Key links to have a look at are as follows:
- There are some important posts on the Britons Abroad Facebook page below and relating to voter registration for the June election for those who still have the right to vote: https://www.facebook.com/britonsabroad/
- Link to short survey on impact of Brexit on voting intentions in the June election: https://sussex.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/quick-june-election-survey
- Link to longer survey which includes general profiling questions, a section on Brexit, and sections on voter registration and voting rights: https://sussex.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/britons-abroad-2
We would much appreciate your support in completing this survey.
The research paper below was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs and was commissioned, overseen and published by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional affairs.
It addresses the impact and consequences of Brexit on the acquired rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU-27.
The study (see Executive Summary on page 8) examines the possibilities of using the concept of acquired rights to safeguard and maintain the rights of these individuals following the UK’s withdrawal.
It concludes that in view of two possible scenarios (withdrawal with or without agreement), it would always be better for citizens on both sides if the negotiators reached an agreement.
However, irrespective of whether there is an agreement or not, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) will continue to offer a means of defending the right to residence and other related rights , such as the right to private and family life, for as long as the ECHR remains part of UK law.
More details of the acquired rights of citizens in European Union law can be found in Part II of the study and specifically:
Chapter 8 (page 45): Rights involved in the withdrawal negotiations – in particular , free movement and residence.
Chapter 9 (page 52): Rights of Citizens and the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights.
June Wayland, a British citizen resident outside the UK now for ten years, has recently commented via this blog on the government’s proposed “Votes for Life” Bill and is suspicious as to why it was delayed until after the EU Referendum. She also resents the fact that she will lose her right to vote in five years time and “would be considered [by this fiasco of administration] no longer a British migrant! Now, where would I have gone?”
“I still have a voice, having been a British migrant for ten years (I hate the word ex-pat when everyone else is called an immigrant). However, I resent the fact that after 15 years, I would be considered no longer a British migrant! Now, where would I have gone?
I also have no doubt that the failure to table the Votes for Life Bill prior to the referendum was deliberate in order to help the Brexit side win.” Since then, many events have occurred that poses questions whether the process was carried out in the correct manner.
It’s no secret that each party that has been in power, works for itself and its members and not us, the general public. I sincerely hope that in my lifetime, improvements are made to remedy this fiasco of administration and for once, think of the people.
I refer also to the Brexit fiasco which will benefit nobody except the ones in power.”
Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons:
“To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to A democracy that works for everyone: British citizens overseas, a policy statement, published on 7 October 2016, whether increased staff time and resources were a criterion in determining the amount of additional funding to be provided to electoral registration officers in relation to the removal of the 15-year time limit on British citizens living abroad being able to vote in elections.”
Chris Skidmore Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Cabinet Office)
“British citizens living abroad retain strong links with the United Kingdom: they may have family here, and they may plan to return here in the future. Equally, there are many British citizens abroad who have fought for our country, dedicating their lives to our armed services. Their stake in our country must be respected. This Government will not deny them the opportunity to have their say in the way their country is governed. That is why we are committed to introducing votes for life for British citizens living abroad.
The Government estimates that a further 3 million British citizens resident overseas will be enfranchised under the ‘votes for life’ proposals set out in the policy statement published on 7 October 2016. The Government has made initial estimates of how many newly enfranchised overseas electors may register to vote, and will continue to further refine its estimates in light of new data as it becomes available.
The Government acknowledges that initial applications to register to vote from newly enfranchised overseas electors are likely to take longer to process than most other applications. This increase in staff time has been built into the Government’s estimates of the expected costs of this policy measure. The Government is currently seeking feedback from electoral administrators and others on the detail of its proposals and will review them if measures to streamline processes are identified.
The Government is committed to legislating to remove the 15-year rule before the 2020 general election.”
The Connexion, France’s English-Language Newspaper, reported on 2nd February, 2017 that:
“In a ‘White Paper’ on The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union, the government says: “We want to secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in other member states, as early as we can”. “
A copy of the government’s “White Paper” referred to in the above Connexion article can be found here:
In the same issue The Connexion reports on a corresponding counter reaction as:
“Expat campaigners launched an ‘Alternative White Paper’, highlighting the situation of Britons in the EU and asking that strong reassurances be made before article 50 is triggered.”
A copy of this “Alternative White Paper” can be found here:
Continuing to remind the British government not to forget the planned “Votes for Life” legislation, despite the pressures of Brexit , here’s a detailed contribution from Susan Kubitz.
Susan is a long-term British expat working with her family in Germany who was shocked not to be allowed to vote in the EU Referendum, and begs the question of “without my vote, where is my identity as this sort of constructive British European?”
Reminding the British government not to forget the planned “Votes for Life” legislation, despite the pressures of Brexit, here are the latest comments on our sign-up poll from British expats on why they deserve the right to vote:
Richard Bower – 2 weeks ago
“I have lived and worked in France for 38 years, with a French wife and 3 bi-national, bi-cultural and bi-lingual children, of whom I am extremely proud. I have always felt that we were part of an open-minded, tolerant and progressive society, Europe, which allowed me to retain my culturally British identity whilst blending in to my French home. Stupidly I ignored the fact that being disenfranchised 23 years ago effectively put an end to my Britishness in terms of rights. Being European, it didn’t seem to matter. Brexit shows that it did. Belatedly, I now support the movement for votes for expat Brits. I wish I had done so many years ago.”
Jill Conway-Fell – 3 weeks ago
“I have lived and worked in Denmark since I was young, when I was employed at the British Embassy in Copenhagen, after which I was employed by The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe.
It has been a source of irritation and anger that I lost my right to vote in the UK, in spite of the fact that I am a first-generation UK citizen, especially in view of the fact that citizens of numerous other EU Member States retain a lifetime vote in their countries of origin.
It is about time that we are granted a vote for life, putting us on an equal footing with others.
Brexit makes it even more imperative that our vote in the UK be restored.
As others have commented, a considerable number of retirees would vote Conservative, so please ensure that immediate action is taken.”
Del – 1 month ago
“Where’s our vote? As a passport holding UK expat whose life will be just as affected as anyone living in the UK then surely I and a couple of million others like me should have been eligible to vote! They omitted a couple of million very interested parties that almost certainly would have stopped this joke of a so called referendum in it’s tracks.
So, where is our vote?”