31 Mar, 2022 @ 14:45
1 min read

Victory for campaigners as Brits living abroad for 15 years set to win right to vote in UK elections

Photo: British Embassy in Rome.

IT has been a long battle, but the British government is finally set to overturn a rule that denied the right to vote to Brits who had lived overseas for more than 15 years.

A bill to change the law to allow British nationals living abroad to vote in UK general elections regardless of the length of time spent overseas passed a critical stage in the House of Lords on Thursday.

It marks a victory for campaigners across Europe who have long been calling for the restoration of democratic rights of Brits living abroad.

“I’m delighted our voting rights are another step closer to being restored, especially as my 15 years are up this summer,” Bremain in Spain’s Sue Wilson, who was awarded an MBE for her campaigning, told the Olive Press.

“However, we must stay focused on the prize, as restoring our democratic right to vote is merely the start of this journey. In order to ensure we can have our views truly represented in Westminster at election time, we must push for improvements in voting methods,” she said.

Campaigner Sue Wilson welcomed the news. Photo: Bremain in Spain.

“Too many of our votes were left uncounted at the last election, and during the Brexit referendum. Once those bridges have been crossed, we must campaign for dedicated MPs, who truly understand the issues Brits abroad face,” said Wilson.

Among the most high-profile campaigners is 100-year-old Harry Shindler, a Brit living in Italy, who challenged the 15-year limit taking to the UK courts and the European Court of Justice.

Shindler, who lives in Rome, said: “I am delighted and pleased this is nearly over. We are a democracy, but not a complete democracy while we didn’t have the right to vote.”

Harry Shindler recieving his MBE in Rome. Photo: British Embassy in Rome.

Overturning the 15-year rule was a promise made by the Conservative party in three successive election manifestos.

The relevant clauses in the Elections bill have now passed the committee stage in the House of Lords after amendments on this issue were debated but withdrawn.

The bill will now proceed to the report stage where it is scrutinised for any legal loopholes before returning to the House of Commons for a final vote.


Fiona Govan

Fiona Govan joined The Olive Press in March 2021. She moved to Spain in 2006 to be The Daily Telegraph’s Madrid correspondent and then worked for six years as Editor of The Local Spain. She lives in Madrid’s Malasaña district with her dog Rufus.

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