Last chance for referendum vote

There is still time to send in emails to peers

Next week the Lords will vote on whether or not to give long-term expats a EU refrendum vote – let them know your views

THE LAST chance for all British expats in the EU to have a vote in the UK’s EU referendum is coming up in a House of Lords debate on Wednesday – and there is still time to send emails to lords and ladies to urge them to support the idea.

At present the EU Referendum Bill only allows expats to vote if they are also entitled to vote in a General Election – but this entitlement runs out after 15 years under the current rules, which are not now likely to change in time to help. The only likely solution is therefore if the referendum bill is amended to include long-term expats.

The Liberal Democrat party supports this – specifically for expats in the EU because they would be the most affected in their daily lives by the referendum. So do many Crossbench (no party) peers. Labour does not though individual peers do not necessarily toe the party line.

The Conservative government has expressed ‘sympathy’ but so far says it does not think the Referendum Bill is the right place to give more rights to long-term expats. However it has given no explanation for why its election promise of a separate ‘Votes for Life’ bill giving a lifetime vote to expats has been held up.

The Labour Party does not support Votes for Life, so thinks that it is being consistent by not supporting long-term expats in the referendum bill. The party did not respond to Connexion’s request for a comment on these policies.

Baroness Miller (Lib Dem) and Lord Hannay (Crossbench) told Connexion they expect to introduce an amendment for long-term expats living in the EU on Wednesday. They also tried to do so at an earlier stage in the Lords’ debates, but withdrew to spend time mustering more support. If the House of Lords votes to accept the amendment on Wednesday the bill will be changed before it is sent back the House of Commons, which will then have the final say.

Lord Hannay told Connexion he thinks sending emails to Conservative peers is important because giving a vote to the long-term expats is consistent with their eventual plans for ‘Votes for Life’. He said long-term expats missing out in the referendum would therefore be ‘embarrassing’ to the party.

He said: “The Conservative position is ridiculous because later on in this parliament at some point they’ll be giving these people the vote. We want them to know that it will be very unpopular if they vote an amendment down. As for Labour we’re stressing to them that this is a one-off – if they support long-term expats in this one, it doesn’t mean they have to support the Votes for Life Bill later on.”

During recent debates some peers argued that if long-term expats were to have a referendum vote it should be for all of them worldwide, with Lord Lexden (Con) saying he thought the bill should be amended to say this. However it is unclear if he or another peer will specifically ask for a vote on that next week.

Readers are therefore advised to email peers to stress why they personally feel it is important for long-term expats to have a referendum vote, with particular focus on Conservative and Labour peers, including Baroness Anelay (Con) who is in charge of the bill in the Lords.

You may wish to explain:

• Why it would be especially unfair for those most affected by the outcome of the referendum – ie. long-term expats in EU countries - to be left out
• If writing to Conservatives remind them that supporting an amendment would help them keep their manifesto promises to long-term expats
• If writing to Labour peers, remind them that the referendum is a one-off, not linked to the separate Votes for Life bill

You can find peers’ contact emails here: House of Lords

In the most recent debates the following peers supported an amendment for expats in the EU:

Baroness Miller (LD)
Baroness Smith of Newnham (LD)
Lord Shipley (LD)
Lord Tyler (LD)
Lord Wallace (LD)
Lord Garrel-Jones (Con)
Lord Bowness (Con)
Lord Tugendhat (Con)
Lord Foulkes (Lab)
Lord Liddle (Lab)
Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab)
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab)
Lord Hannay (CB)
Lord Dykes (CB)

The following wanted all expats, everywhere to have a vote:

Lord Lexden (Con)
Lord Spicer (Con)
Lord Hamilton (Con)
Lord Flight (Con)
Lord Dobbs (Con)
Lord Green (CB)

Peers who opposed a vote for expats included:

Baroness Morgan of Ely (Lab)
Lord Faulks (Conservative minister)
Lord Grocott (Lab)
Viscount Trenchard (Con)

Previous article: Expats must not be left out

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