There have been a spate of recent incidents that have caused uproar amongst England’s overseas expats and left them feeling somewhat disillusioned. There are an estimated 5.5 million Brits currently living overseas and two major incidents are seen as the straws that broke the camel's back.
The first incident was the frozen pension problem and its subsequent court case. Elderly expats in places like Australia, Canada and South Africa lost their right to be paid a state pension with an index-linked rate due to the fact that said countries, along with other places, did not have what is called a ‘reciprocal social security agreement’ in place.
There is also the unsightly issue of the expiration of the expat vote. The expat vote currently expires after 15 years and this time frame is being contested by a judicial review thanks to Spain-based UK expat. Mr Preston claims that: “I’m a British citizen and only a British citizen, married to a British wife and both of us work for British firms. I read British papers, my children attend a British school and my estate taxes are owed to the British government when I die. This [voting] law penalizes me for taking advantage of the opportunities that the British government promised to all citizens when Britain joined the EU. The spirit of this law is entirely inconsistent with British democratic traditions as well as our foreign policy, where we work to bring democracy to far off corners of the world”.
Expat Brits have had to face this draconian measure since 1985, regardless of an individual’s occupation they will be stopped from voting after the 15 years are up. These kinds of rules are nowhere to be found across the pond in the USA, where expat’s rights to vote never go away, regardless of how long they have been away.
Simply put, changes need to be made and the British Government should take steps to ensure that its citizens away from home are looked after, whether it’s their right to vote or their right to claim a fair pension.