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UK plans to grant expats lifelong voting rights
Voting rights

UK plans to grant expats lifelong voting rights

by Yannick LAMBERT 27.05.2021 From our online archive
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The UK government is introducing a bill that would scrap the current 15-year limit on voting rights for citizens abroad by replacing them with lifelong rights, giving in to a demand that had been voiced during the Brexit referendum.

"British citizens who have moved abroad will be given ‘votes for life’ as the Government scraps the arbitrary 15-year limit on the voting rights", the UK Embassy in Luxembourg said in an press release on Thursday.

The UK is also set to make it easier for British expatriates to stay on the electoral register.

There are around 6,000 UK citizens in Luxembourg, and there are close to an additional 1,500 with both UK and Luxembourg citizenship.

In 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union in a referendum in which many expatriates who had lived abroad for 15 years or more, including in Luxembourg, were barred from voting. 

British communities in Europe and elsewhere have long lobbied the government and their diplomatic representatives to extend voting rights.

"Decisions made in the UK Parliament on foreign policy, defence, immigration, pensions and trade deals affect British citizens who live overseas", the press release by the UK government said. 

Currently, to register overseas a voter must be a UK citizen and have been registered to vote in UK parliamentary elections within the previous 15 years.

Overseas electors registered in the UK will continue to be able to vote by proxy, by post, or in person if they happen to be in their constituency on polling day.    

In 2019, the UK and Luxembourg signed an agreement allowing nationals from either country to stand and vote in local elections to continue some of the rights that existed when the UK was still in the EU.

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