British expats want to keep their right to vote


Expat Vote

A legal case has been launched by a British expatriate who wants to keep his right to vote, no matter how long he has been out of the country.

The situation affecting many Brits abroad has been highlighted by British citizen James Preston. Mr Preston has been living and working in Spain for UK companies since 1995. His children attend a British school and his estate will be liable for UK taxes when he passes away. However, despite maintaining a strong link with the UK, he lost his right to vote to a UK vote in 2009.

As such he has begun a legal case against the UK government that will be heard in the High Court later this year. His case will argue that stripping British citizens of the right to vote violates European Union laws.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office spoke of the challenged policy that removes the right to vote after a period of time: "The length of the time limit has been changed over the years – from five to 20 years, then to 15 years from April 1 2002, but on each time it considered the issue Parliament has accepted the view that generally, over time, a person's connection with the UK is likely to diminish if they are living permanently abroad.”

In a bid to change this, a campaign has also been launched online. The ‘Votes for Expat Brits’ petition is now online with the statement “We believe that the UK should enable and encourage all its expat citizens – not just some of them – to participate fully in the political process in their home country, by giving them unrestricted voting rights in national elections, as in most other advanced democracies”.

Visit to sign the petition.