Brian Cave, a lead campaigner in our “Votes for expat Brits” team, has received from the Cabinet Office the response below (to read the file it’s better to save and then rotate view) to his recent enquiry on overseas voting rights (following the EU Referendum).
TO2016473 – Brian Cave – overseas voting rights
It is note worthy from this that the government still has plans to remove the 15-year-limit on overseas voting rights, as set out in their manifesto for this parliament in May 2015.
In addition, it is recognised that UK citizens living in the EU, and citizens from other Member States living in the UK, get a range of rights from UK membership of the EU including access to healthcare, and that all these rights will have to be covered in a successor arrangement.
Overseas Voting Rights
Historically there has been rather a low voting turnout (20,000 – 30,000) from the estimated 5 – 6 million British citizens resident abroad, even assuming that around half could be excluded by the 15-year-limit.
Therefore, the total number of British expatriate citizens actually registered and voting e.g. in the recent EU Referendum, will be an important measure of overseas voter interest in and support for, the above manifesto commitment of the government to introduce a “Votes for Life” bill.
It is encouraging then that an estimated 200,000 – 300,000 overseas voters (over twice the number for the 2015 General Election) were registered for this Referendum; the final figures will be available from the Electoral Commission once it has collected the relevant statistics from the Local Electoral Officers for its overall report later in the year.
EU Referendum – Brexit Analysis
For those interested in an analysis of the final Brexit vote in favour of “leave”, a round-up of research on Britain’s EU Referendum by Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics at the University of Kent, can be found here.
His overall conclusion is that:
“In the shadow of the 2016 referendum stands one basic assertion that few would contest: Britain is now more divided than ever”