15-year voting rule debate put off by two months

The Houses of Parliament seen from across the River Thames in London

The next debate on a bill ending the 15-year limit on voting by Britons living abroad has been listed for March 22 - eight weeks after the original date.

As we previously reported, the next, 'report stage' debate on the Overseas Electors Bill 2017-2019 had been listed to take place last Friday, January 25, however it was put off.

The bill's official web page now has the debate listed for March 22, a week before the planned Brexit day. The bill had its first reading in the House of Commons in July 2017, since when the UK has remained in the same, extra-long, session of Parliament, due to the complexity of Brexit (parliamentary sessions usually last one year).

The 15-year rule limit meant that Britons living abroad long-term were excluded from the 2016 Brexit referendum, which was based largely on the same franchise as for parliamentary elections. This was despite original hopes in 2015 that changing the elections law might be prioritised so it happened before the Brexit referendum vote. 

The promised change was in the last two Conservative manifestos and a bill for it was originally listed in the Queen's Speech documents for the 2015-2016 parliamentary year, whereas the Cameron government's manifesto promise on Brexit was for a referendum 'by the end of 2017'.

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