Brits abroad should be allowed to vote

Brits abroad should be allowed to vote
Published:  31 May at 9 AM
British expats campaigning to retain the right to vote in general elections at home have been given the support of the European Commission. As they stand the rules mean that anyone who has lived outside Britain for more than 15 years loses their right to cast a ballot.

Commission VP Viviane Reding said the EC was looking at ways to ensure that citizens retained their right to a vote. She added that by withdrawing that right governments in countries including the UK, Denmark and Ireland were penalizing people for using their right to move freely.

The 15 year rule was originally introduced because it was believed that people who had lived overseas for this length of time no longer had any links with the UK. Giles Goodall of the Brussels and Liberal Democrats said this was no longer the case as people can remain in touch with their home country far more easily these days.

He added that although the EC has no power to change the rules in the UK by supporting the right to vote it was putting political pressure on the UK government.

There have been several high-profile campaigns by British expats recently to get the rules changed. However none have been successful.