A new campaign has been launched to call for British expats living overseas and for all citizens resident in the UK to be allowed to vote in both UK general elections and UK referendums.
This time the campaign has been formed by the combined work of two groups – The 3 Million and Another Europe is Possible ; the reason behind the campaign being that it is grossly unfair that millions of people are denied a vote in UK referendums and elections that can directly affect their future.
Currently, European citizens living in the UK can only vote in European and local elections, and UK expats who have lived overseas for more than 15 years lose all rights to vote in the UK. Not only are these British expats exempt from voting in the UK referendums that affect them directly, but with Brexit they now face the possibility of losing their rights to vote in local elections too!
If successful the campaign (which is politically neutral) would seek to introduce new legislation to extend the voting franchise, which has not changed in a significant way since 1969 when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.
In an open letter published in The Independent newspaper, supported by many MPs, peers and NGO leaders, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, Mr Russell-Moyle, said:
“The fact that millions of people who live in this country and have made lives here are denied a vote in how they are governed ought to shame us as a society. The past few years have taught us that not just public services, but fundamental rights and the right to live in the place you call home, can be threatened and undermined by politicians who claim to speak for all of us.
“This period has also taught us how inadequate Britain’s democratic institutions are. MPs have a responsibility to fight for the rights of those who have been silenced, and that is what I intend to do.”
Jane Golding, co-chair of the British in Europe group that represents UK nationals living in EU countries, said:
“If our voting system is not changed, we will see vast numbers of British citizens, who left the UK to work or study, continuing to be completely disenfranchised from national elections and shut out of the democratic process. And many millions of people living in the UK, who have built lives in Britain, will continue to be shut out of the democratic process.”
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