Vote for life ... but when?

21 March 2020

Britons living abroad for more than 15 years WILL get back their UK parliamentary and referendum vote, the British prime minister has said – but there is no detail about when a new law is planned.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, replying to a letter from Harry Shindler, 99, a long-time campaigner for expatriates’ rights who lives in Italy, said the government is “committed to scrapping the arbitrary rule”.

He added that he is aware most Britons abroad “retain deep ties to the UK” and many still have family there, plan to return, or draw British pensions “after a lifetime of hard work”.

Others have fought for their country, like World War Two veteran Mr Shindler, he said.

“Now we have left the EU, it is more important than ever to strengthen the UK’s ties with the British expat community.

“We will be making an announcement on our plans to deliver votes for life in due course,” Mr Johnson said.

The policy of ending the 15-year limit was listed in the notes document to December’s Queen’s Speech, which usually means that, if parliamentary time is available, the government aims to introduce a bill on it in the coming session of Parliament.

A session usually lasts from spring to spring but it is unclear how long the current session will last, with Parlia­ment having opened, unusually, in December. Due to Brexit, the last session lasted more than two years, which is exceptional.

The policy was also in the last three Conservative manifestos.

Connexion contacted several UK government departments to find out if any concrete plans exist to introduce a “votes for life” bill, but no details were available other than that legislative options are under consideration and there will be more information in due course.

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