Renouncing British Citizenship

James Preston - a businessman in Spain (where you cannot have dual Nationality!) has fought a long battle against the British Government to have the right to Representation in the Westminster Parliament. He brought a case before the High Court in London, using the offices of solicitors 'pro bono publico'. The cost was high in money and time. The case went against him.

He has in despair decided to renounce British Nationality and take out Spanish.

You views on this extreme decision is sought. Brian Cave

The 15 year limit on our voting rights for political reasons, does not recognise that the emotional bond between our British nationality, sense of identity and family heritage remains unbroken until we choose to sever the link with that nationality, irrespective of where we are resident or taxed. General de Gaulle when in power recognised this continuing emotional link to France of French expatriates in granting them unlimited voting rights, remembering that they answered his call to join the Free French after the fall of France in 1940.

Would that we were citizens of the United Kingdom. We are subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second Her Heirs and Successors in perpetuity. I always knew it was a mistake to bring back Charles Stuart.

Despite all that has been said - I would be very careful about renouncing UK citizenship. Paradise can be very deceptive and illusory concept - Paradise is only paradise until you live there !!

I think as I live in France I should vote here as I will be more affected by what happens in France than in the UK. However, I have never got round to applying for French nationality but I would not want to give up UK nationality and have given my children British nationality (so they have both French and English), which I did think was a bit expensive.

I'm puzzled why the current government, who rule only by the grace of a sometimes rather shaky agreement between parties, would not want to have a bigger pool of voters. The French quite clearly want to include their expat nationals. Would they not do better to keep everyone voting to counter the drop in the number of people who can be bothered to do so in the UK? Would it also not make sense to keep voters who are so passionate about being involved?

Many of you who know Expatsradio will also know that some team members are Dutch. It has long been a source of heated discussions that even after some 40 years in the UK, these members cannot vote in national elections despite having all their assets here. However, they can still vote in the Netherlands by post if necessary! Why should changing your nationality be an issue if you are an EU citizen? Do we not adhere to EU edicts wherever we live?

As another quirky fact, the Dutch Consul in our region is an Englishman!

Incidentally, what happens if you move your pension and all your assets abroad? No vote no tax, civil disobedience.....another can of worms?

Over to you.

One salutes James Preston for taking on the system, but the result was to a degree unfortunately predictable. I have been in and around France for 40 years, but lived here permanently only six years. I have stood as candidate in municipal elections unsuccessfully both sides of the Channel. I can still vote in UK elections but will cease to be able to do so in about nine years, so the next UK general election may be my last chance to vote in such an election. My overall view is that it would be preferable to retain the right to vote in the country of your nationality whilst an expatriate, as for the Americans and the French. Failing that I think that would be difficulties in achieving a vote in national elections in France as the French (or many of them to my knowledge) have grave misgivings about "etrangers" being given the vote, even if they are naturalised. One sees the spectacle of Martine Aubrey courting the muslim vote by wearing head dresses. Even Baroness Farsi (who is muslim) doesn't do that. The French seem to be much mopre concerned about losing their national identity than the British. I don't think that I will be renouncing my British passport (unlike the Scots) as I think that it's a nationality that one can still be proud of, even if one lives abroad, and even if not all the things that happen in Britain these days are things that we can be proud of.

I haven't yet decided whether or not to stand again at the next municipales (I was branded by the communist mayor as too old at 63 last time).

Incidentally when I had a major problem a few years ago here I went to my local senateur who took up the cudgel on my behalf without compunction, so to a degree we do have access to the system here, even if we can't as yet vote for the nationals.

The UK government has taken a morally indefensible stand for no sensible or logical reason. It would be so easy to sort this 15 year voting limit issue out but it prefers to act unfairly, to bully, to belittle and cajole - James Preston has out respect and our sympathy.

The previous generation went to war to enable us to continue to be able vote. My father lived in Portugal for 27 years and was unable to vote for 12 of them. I soon will be denied the right that he fought for from 1939-1945 in appalling circumstances in the Far East.

The EU arrived and Britons could move more freely and live where it suited them within Europe. Why then are we punished by radom, by illogical and spiteful laws on representation.

Also, David Gay is right (see below) "No taxation without Representation" did stir up some 'local difficulty' a while ago!

I'm afraid I haven't had the time, in fact have no time for the Cameron administration, to read the arguments against allowing ex-pats full rights to Parliamentary representation. Could it really be so difficult to create an extra-territorial constituency or two. I used to be a representative of my university on the Conference of University convocations the original purpose of this organisation was to select the candidates for the University seats in the House of Commons. i would be inclined to the view that ex-pat seats would have rather more legitimacy.

Having already committed an important sum of his own money in his campaign to retain his right to vote in UK national elections and being denied the right to appeal the legal judgment against him, James Preston is continuing to demonstrate to the British government the strength of his personal feeling on having the right to vote somewhere, by taking the only and rather extreme step seemingly now available to him of applying for Spanish nationality in order to at least vote nationally where he is currently resident.

This issue of having the right to vote in the UK as the British government has already pointed out, is not necessarily to do with being resident and paying British tax since some non-British nationals resident and paying tax in the UK eg French, Russians etc cannot vote although,for historical reasons, Irish and Commonwealth citizens resident and paying tax in the UK can vote !

James Preston,therefore, is personally demonstrating that the 15-year rule on British expats removes his democratic and human right to vote as a British national in his country of birth although the actual case he brought and lost against the British government was that it was a barrier to his freedom to move and work within the European Union.

Didn't we have a little trouble with the cousins a while back? Something about "No taxation without Representation".

Have the laws changed ?

When I took French citizenship 9 years ago you could keep your British nationality because the laws had just been changed, until then you couldn't.

I have e French ID card & a British passeport (that has been renewed since having the French ID)

Well, Maria, living as we do in the big happy family that is the EU, there is no need to renounce anything as we are all (supposedly except for voting) equal.

I can't understand why anyone would want to renounce their UK citizenship when they live in France unless they wanted to vote which seems to be the only advantage. The hassle it takes to get French nationality would be enough to put a lot of people off if it's only to get a minor advantage, and it's one I'm certainly not prepared to go through (and I was married to a Frenchman).

Why on earth would I want to be French when I'm British?

I'd love to know why you think it's so understandable for people to renounce UK citizenship and go through the hassle of becoming a French national.

I don't think that the place that you pay your tax has anything to do with it. I will pay UK tax on my RAF pension for the rest of my life - I have no choice in that, but as I live in France full time, I pay other taxes here.

ditto Johnny's remarks ;-)

Doesn't it depend on where you pay your taxes? If you have left the country permanently and make no contribution to it any more it seems a bit strange to expect a say in how it's run.

I find it quite amazing that whilst France has gone out of its way to give all their expats now living abroad, regardless of how long, full political representation back in France the UK sticks to its ruling that after 15 years you cease to have any form of representation about anything. As an example Francois Hollande is in London today canvassing for the French North Europe seat and we can certainly expect President Sarkozy doing the same very shortly.