OUR article that appeared in the print and internet editions of Euro Weekly News has certainly started people talking and thinking about their position, with one reader remembering the famous Boston Tea Party slogan ‘No taxation without representation’.
Whilst we don’t expect revolution in the street, we have become aware of the fact that a petition has appeared on the Downing Street website concerning votes in the referendum for those who have lived outside of the UK for more than 15 years with the following title and information: Right to vote for British Citizens irrespective of where they are registered Expats and Brits working and living abroad have no right to vote if they have not been registered in the UK for 15 years! We have not deserted Britain, we may return in the future.
The elections/referendums in Britain affect us directly too! We would like a voice! Preventing us from having a vote in our own country and also not being allowed to vote in the country that we choose to live and work in, is contrary to the fundamental European principle of “freedom of movement within the EU”.
It’s not freedom of movement if you are forced to either, return to your country of birth or reject your origins and take on the citizenship of the country in which you now reside. The actual cut-off date is arbitrary as when first introduced in 1985 in the Representation of the People Act, only five years was allowed; this was then extended to 20 years in 1989 and reduced to 15 years in 2002. The government has indicated that it does intend to change the 15-year rule but probably not before the referendum, which seems very bizarre.
At the end of the day, if a person holds a British passport then we believe that they should be allowed to express their opinion on the future of Britain. They have to pay taxes in the country of domicile but are not allowed to vote in most cases as they are still considered foreigners, yet they also can’t vote in their country of birth.
The crazy situation is that all members of the Armed Forces, Crown Servants and employees of the British Council are exempt from the rule yet someone who has embraced the European Union, of which Britain is still a member, will be penalised and not allowed to vote, even though people in prison in the UK have had their voting rights protected!
For those who agree with this petition, and we at Euro Weekly News certainly do as it affects a number of us, we would suggest that you add your name to this petition which needs 100,000 votes in order to force a debate in Parliament.