At Expat and Offshore we have continually campaigned on the scandal of expatriates being denied the vote in UK General Elections.
Now the Conservative party has announced plans to abolish the so called ‘15 year rule’ that removes the electoral suffrage from millions of expats.
The manifesto pledge will mean that this proposal is likely to become law if the Conservatives win a majority in the 2015 election.
The current rules stipulate that when Britons have been out of the UK for 15 years they are no longer allowed to vote in UK parliamentary elections. Under the new proposals this will be lifted and Brits will retain these voting rights for life.
A Conservative Party spokesman said, “Millions of British citizens live and work across the globe. Many have worked hard, contributed to Britain all their lives, and have close family living in Britain.
“Like many other countries, the UK continues to protect British citizens living abroad with its military, embassy network, and passport and other services. However, Britain currently restricts the rights of these citizens to vote in general elections.
“The last Labour government reduced the amount of time that British citizens living overseas were entitled to register to vote in UK general elections to just 15 years. That change has been the subject of concerted campaigning from expat groups and Conservatives Abroad, the network for Conservative supporters overseas.
“If the Conservative Party wins the next general election, we will remove this cap and extend it to a full right as a British citizen to vote in British elections for life.”
The Chairman of the Conservative Party, Grant Shapps added, “Being a British citizen is for life. It gives you the lifelong right to be protected by our military and Foreign Office, and to travel on a British passport. We believe it should also give you the lifelong right to vote."
Heather Harper, chairman of Conservatives Abroad said, “It’s great result that the party has listened to us and included this in the Conservative manifesto so that millions of expats, of all political persuasions, will be included in the democratic process again.”