BRITISH citizens living overseas in countries like Spain for more than 15 years are set to be able to vote in the next UK general election.
Draft legislation has been published by the UK parliament and its expected to become law by mid-January
Around three million British citizens live abroad and at the start of 2023, there were 293,171 UK nationals registered as living in Spain by virtue of being on the municipal padron.
British people living in Spain for more than 15 years would be able to vote in the last UK constituency in which they were registered or provide proof of past residency.
The news brings to an end a long battle by the late Harry Shindler, who challenged the former 15-year limit on voting rights in the high court in 2016, with the case ending up before the European court of justice.
“We owe a huge debt to Harry Shindler for his tireless campaigning on this and of course we are happy that the government has finally made good on its promise,” said Jane Golding, co-chair of campaign group British in Europe- speaking to The Guardian.
She said the proposed legislation was also the culmination of all the work campaigners in the organisation had undertaken since 2017 ‘to give Britons who live overseas a voice in the political process’.
British in Europe said a survey showed high engagement with the political process at home with 84% saying they were ‘very likely’ to vote in the next general election if they could and 10% saying they were ‘quite likely’.
Future voters will still need to go through identity checks, plus provide proof of past registration or past residency in the UK if they have not been on the electoral roll before.
For those registering for the first time, proof of former residency will be needed like an expired UK driving licence, a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions confirming state pension eligibility, or a utility bill.
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