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Conservatives glad to be in Europe

The British Conservatives in Paris promote involvement in politics in Britain and integration into life in France.

The British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP) is a group of 76 politically active members aiming to promote expatriate involvement in politics back in Britain and to help integration into French society.

Group chairman Christopher Chantrey said: “Although we are fundamentally interested in politics and providing members with an environment in which to express themselves, we also aim to provide a social service and help people integrate.

“Most of our members are indeed British expats, although we do have several French members who have the British connection, usually through family or spouses.”

The association was founded in January 2005 after an effort from the Conservatives Abroad in London who wanted to gauge how much support would be received if a group were to be set up.

On the first day of enquiries 17 people signed up and since the group has continued to grow with membership extending out of the Paris area into Brittany.

Mr Chantrey said: “The main aim of our association is to offer opportunities for members to debate political issues, listen to and meet visiting British and French politicians and to encourage eligible British citizens in France to register to vote.

“We are continually interested in increasing the proportion of expats who decide to vote in the British elections and we shall soon be creating a forum for how to increase the number of people who decide to get into the politics back in the UK.

“Britain does not seem to extend itself to its expatriate community- and this is something that we wish to campaign against.

“Other countries in the EU maintain links with citizens who have moved to other countries, whereas in Britain if you have been away for over 15 years you are no longer entitled to vote.

“This is something that we feel very strongly about as many of us do relate to how things are going on back at home,” he said.

The political discussion forums are held quarterly, with a different theme addressed each meeting. The results of these forums are then transmitted back to London to be discussed.

A monthly constitution study group takes place where members meet to debate topics such as the European and British constitutions.

These are held by author and historian Gregor Dallas. The BCiP also organises social events, from dinners with British and French political speakers to informal evenings where both British and French members can meet and mix. Tel: 01 42 46 24 92

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