Expat votes on EU Referendum Bill - amendment?

Next week the EU Referendum Bill starts in the House of Lords. There is a chance to amend the Bill. At the moment it prevents anyone who has lived abroad for more than fifteen years from having a vote on this issue. I believe this is very unfair and lots of expats care deeply, one way or the other, as to whether the UK should remain as part of the EU. I intend to bring an amendment to give expats the right to vote in the referendum. I have not decided on the fine detail yet but I am interested in the views of SFN members. I know this has been a discussion thread before but wanted as wide a range of views as possible.

When I am not in Parliament I am working in our vineyard in 24. Lots of our immediate expat neighbours have expressed a view!

Sue Miller, aka Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Assuming the UK stays in the EU, more energy should be invested in votes in the country of (permanent) residence for EU citizens. I doubt the UK would like it very much, but with freedom of movement it is a tit-for-tat thing and would probably work very much in favour of the present government.

It seems quite clear to me that British citizens living in the EU should have the right to vote on whether or not the UK remain in the EU, regardless of how long they have been living outside the UK, as the outcome is likely to have a serious impact on their lives. On the other hand, I have no problem with expat citizens no longer being able to vote in UK elections - it seems ludicrous to be living in one country yet voting on the political situation of another...

Any bill proposed should maybe consider this?

Good point. I will keep that in mind

Mine did too, and claimed that they had not received the annual registration papers. When I did it again I telephoned them to check that they had received the new application.

Sorry I was not implying that the Civil Service was currently dragging its feet but that it may do so after any such vote is passed when the time comes to set up any registration process. It needs to be incorporated in this bill that any such work will be finished before the referndum

I am delighted to hear that you will go for this to represent the views of those who are most affected should the UK decide to leave the EU.

I feel that we are all British citizens and should have the representation afforded to all in the UK. Those who at present live in the EU are unsure of what their status will be should the UK decide to leave. Also what will happen to London should all the French decide to come back to France. Indeed, what will happen to France?

Can you imagine the strain on the housing market and local services in UK should many retirees decide to leave France etc?

I do not believe that this has been considered.

Please do your best to represent those who would like to continue to live in France and represent Britain as valued members of their villages and towns.

Good, the more HoL members who take an interest the further we are likely to be able to go with this. I personally do not want the right to express a view at the ballot box to get clouded with whether I agree with that view or not

Yes I am one of those Lib Dem Peers. It is not the Civil Service dragging its feet as much as the promises made in the manifesto slipping down the Government agenda. You are right that it is very important to show just how many people will be affected

This is exactly the issue that will need to be debated in committee once the amendment is down

Quite. How can a government be trusted after the 'vows' made before the 18 September last year that were to be acted on immediately are now all but forgotten, except by we Scots? Either way, it strikes me that it will be a referendum designed to achieve what the government wants in line with the way they see the political winds blowing, thus neither side should trust it. However, in the event it is at all slanted toward the wishes of the Europhobes then the impact on people living in the EU may be enormous if that pushes it over the line and the UK leaves. It is time everybody was given completely honest information about what the UK would lose, the fact that trading as normal as some people are saying is hardly likely because retribution for the way the UK has played the EU is to await. Furthermore, the untruth that the EEA that is made up of EU members plus three EFTA members would somehow replace the EU is disingenuous if not an outright fantasy, especially since those who peddle that myth omit the freedom of movement and labour mobility that membership of the EEA also includes. Before all else it is time the electorate wherever they may be are told the whole story and not selected snippets about how great the UK will be alone.

It's all well and good keeping the vote, but when your 'local' council forgets to send you the correct voting slip (as in the last general election), it counts for nothing.

I believe that in the case of a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU all British citizens resident within the EU should have the right (and duty) to vote in that referendum irrespective of the length of time they have been resident outwith the UK. My own personal view is that our membership of the EU is a settled matter and our politicians should not have given in to demands for this measure. If the voters decide to remain then I fear that this issue will keep coming back to plague us in much the same way as the Scottish referendum seems to be doing.

But where do you draw the line? Are you advocating that someone who left the UK af age 18 or 21 and has lived abroad for 20/30 years or more should still have the right to vote in UK elections? Why? However you set the limits there will always be someone outside the limits who will not be happy.

Yes ..... Go ahead. All UK citizens should have voting rights for life.

I know several people in the HoL I can turn to, fellow academics including an ex 'boss'. Over the last few months I have contacted four of them whereby each of them has expressed a view that the government does not want people who have been out of the UK to vote at all if avoidable and that although the fifteen year rule may well be changed and allow a votes for life, unless it becomes law within the next twelve months it is unlikely ex-patriots will be able to vote. The referendum seems to be a bone of contention that of course those who would like the UK out of the EU would prefer to see with a considerable number of voters who are likely to be for remaining in by a sizeable majority excluded. That seems like gross political hypocrisy to many of us, given it is our future that is very directly impacted, perhaps even detrimentally.

If nothing else such a move (which I believe is being brought in by the Liberal Democrat peers supported by the cross benchers) will bring to the fore the governments seeming unwillingness to bring forward the "votes for life" bill which the promised in their manifesto. This bill has been promised this parliament, so before May 2016 and it then depends on the speed with which the authorities act to get the registration of all overseas voters sorted out. If the referendum is towards the end of 2017 everything may be in order but as it will depend on the Civil Service getting its act together I am not confident.

What is most important is that all those that can (been abroad for 15 years or less) register to vote to show how many of us there are.