Are British overseas voters the UK's permanent ambassadors in the world?

The rather tongue in cheek article below in the Guardian has French presidential candidate Francois Hollande canvassing and flattering French expatriate voters as:

...."France's permanent ambassadors in the world" .......

...."You, depositories of our country's principles and values across the world,......

As British expatriates and potential overseas voters living in France, how do we perceive ourselves?


Thanks for this input, Brian.

I quote the following from your French expat as a good example of how expat Brits might also like to be perceived?

"But the majority of expatriates enhance the activity, the exchanges, and the influence of France. As Frenchmen abroad we feel that we embody the image of our country".

The French expat in question still feels strong ties with France and does not question his right to vote in French presidential elections even after 12 years away. He'd find it very odd if after 15 years this right to vote was then taken away, as is the case for his British counterpart.

Yesterday I read an item in the French Journal ‘La Dépêche du Midi’ of April 2 2012.

It reports an interview with a French expatriate in New York. The attitude displayed by this Frenchman appears to be lacking in so many Britons Abroad. We may compare it with the experience of James Preston in Spain who displays a similar pride in his British nationality but in frustration at being refused the vote in Britain says he will take out Spanish nationality.

I have translated the piece as follows.

"Charles Dolligé, 39 years old, is originally from Auch(32), head of a business, he lives between New York, Washington and Puerto Rico

.”One never completely leaves one’s country. Though I have lived for 12 years in New York, I am more in tune with the French presidential campaign than with the American campaign.

Every day, I look at the unfolding of the campaign by internet. I interest myself in it primarily for my family’s sake who live in France but also for my job. My business buys much from France and it is close to my heart that I promote French products. In my opinion such themes are obscured in this campaign.

Since “the affaire Merah” for example, they speak only of security and not the essentials: education and the economy. How to get out of this crisis?

That is the true question. For me myself the candidate Nicholas Sarkozy proposes a clear solution. He has the stuff of a president, like Obama. And maintains relations which seem to me of prime importance, notably with the United States."

Certainly I will vote, my choice is made. I will never opt for a candidate who proposes to tax the richest at 75%. I detest this French mentality which makes success a tabou. When I arrived in the USA, I had nothing. So then, if this reform passes, I adopt American nationality without hesitation. Sure, I understand that one wishes to tax those who fly to foreign parts in order to pay less in tax. But the majority of expatriates enhance the activity, the exchanges, and the influence of France. As Frenchmen abroad we feel that we embody the image of our country. However the candidates shut us out in this political debate. It is time to think ‘World’ and no longer just only ‘France’.


Yes, due to neglect of the overseas voting base by successive British governments since the 1980s when expats were first allowed to vote, there were only around 30,000 or so registered to vote at the last general election.

Culturally I think we Brits are not programmed to respond to the type of flattering language used by Francois Hollande in his attempts to attract French expat votes. However, even if I don't see myself as any "ambassador" of the UK, I noticed another SFN thread I think the other day about the rudeness of expats and I wouldn't like to think any adverse behaviour on my part in France, where I consider myself myself as a resident, temporary "guest", would be viewed as reflecting badly on the image of the UK in general.

Maybe it is the case that French politicians have realised how the results of elections, including the forthcoming French Presidential elections, can be effected by actively encouraging their expat voters to support them. It is quite extraordinary how we Expat Brits are marginalised by the UK government which is very short sighted.

- as an "integrated immigrant" with no real knowledge or interest of what's going on in the UK as there's too much going on here with jobs and family etc. Good point though, I'm sure others will think quite differently ;-)