Advertisement

15-year rule: Long-term Britons in Europe to get right to vote in UK elections

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 4 Mar, 2021 Updated Thu 4 Mar 2021 09:39 CEST
image alt text
Union flags fly by the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, central London on January 17, 2018 as Parliament will vote today on the EU withdrawal bill. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

The UK government has announced it plans to scrap the rule that bars British citizens, who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting in UK elections, meaning all Brits living in Europe will be able to vote.

Advertisement

The new announcement was made in the fine print of the UK government's Budget that was presented this week.

Paragraph 2.41 of the Treasury Red Book, which sets out the government's planned spending in detail, says: "Overseas Electors - the government is providing an additional £2.5m to remove the limit preventing British citizens who live overseas from voting after 15 years."

Those affected will be allowed to vote in the constituencies where they lived before leaving the country, as eligible voters do currently.

Since 2002 British citizens living abroad for more than 15 years have been barred from voting in UK elections. That ban even included the 2016 Brexit referendum, despite the fact the outcome of the vote directly impacted the lives of UK citizens living in the EU.

Advertisement

In recent years Conservative governments have at various times announced moves to end the so-called 15-year rule but the ban remains in place.

The government has told UK media that new legislation will be put to parliament later this year so the reform can be pushed through.

The British in Europe campaign group said: "We have heard this several times before but it would be very welcome if it was finally scrapped."

However there the announcement was met with a  certain amount of understandable scepticism from Britons living abroad, after numerous false promises in recent years.

"Believe it when I'm at Embassy casting a vote," tweeted John Mills a Briton living in Stockholm.

https://twitter.com/JohnFMills/status/1367351824555065345

While others understandably lamented the fact they could not vote in the 2016 referendum.

"The most important vote for us was the 2016 referendum. Those of us in this category were not allowed to vote. The outcome has had a huge impact on @BritishInEurope It’s a bit late now," tweeted Nicola, a Briton living in Brussels.

The campaign to end the 15-year rule has been led by Harry Shindler a 99-year-old WWII veteran who settled in Italy around 40 years ago.

Reacting to the news he tweeted: "It's very good news that the UK's 15 year voting rule is ending as part of #Budget2021. We fought to defend our right to vote in WW2 and now we will get to use it. This is an important day for freedom."

Sue Wilson from Bremain in Spain added: "Naturally, there is still much cynicism about the government's intentions - after all, we've been here before and been disappointed when manifesto promises were broken - but there's definitely more positivity in the air this time around. Let's hope his optimism is well placed and that Harry Shindler sees his long-lost voting rights returned in time for his forthcoming 100th birthday. I can't think of a better birthday present."

 

 

More

Comments

The Local 2021/03/04 09:39

Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also