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Expat stands as MP in protest

A British retiree is standing in the UK general election to highlight the absurdity of the 15-year expat voting limit - he could be an MP, but cannot vote

A RETIRED civil servant from Carcassonne is standing as an MP in the British elections to highlight the absurdity of the 15-year limit on the expat vote - he could be an MP, but cannot vote.

James Franklyn Jackson, 71, a former treasurer of Colwyn Bay Council and of the Falkland Islands government, has paid up his deposit and found his required 10 ‘subscribers’ from his chosen constituency – Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where London mayor Boris Johnson is also standing as an MP. The application had to be lodged by last week.

Mr Jackson, who is standing independently, told Connexion in an email: “Amazingly, although I live outside of the UK and cannot vote, nothing in law prevents me from standing as a parliamentary candidate.

“If elected, I could represent a constituency in which I know no one. In a balance of power situation, I could conceivably make the difference to which party becomes government of the day.

“Taking it to the extreme, there would be nothing, if support were forthcoming, to stop me becoming Prime Minister, but I would still be unable to vote.

“The present government often says that 'Britain is open for business' but with the present electoral laws, it is also 'open to ridicule.' The whole system is a complete shambles and totally absurd.”

Partner Pat Stevenson said Mr Jackson has “absolutely no interest in being an MP, but I respect the fact he’s prepared to pay up and do something about it”.

“He’s now a fully-fledged candidate. He has no connection with the constituency whatsoever but chose it because Boris Johnson was standing there and he thought it was likely to obtain more publicity.

“He found his supporters by knocking on doors. He expected it to be difficult, but once he made his point people were more than willing; he could have got hundreds of them. He told them ‘I’m not asking you to vote for me, I just need your support to be a candidate’.”

She added: “We both feel it is crazy that none of us can vote once we have been abroad for more than 15 years.

“The French have dedicated MPs for their expatriates and almost everywhere else in Europe you maintain a vote for life.”

Mr Jackson, who was not available to talk today, has been in France for almost 11 years but formerly lived in the Falklands and before that Egypt, so has long since passed the 15 years.

He wrote that he is not expecting to be elected, but would urge expats to contact the new MPs after the election over the need to end the 15-year rule – not least so that Britons could take part in any future referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

While the Conservatives have pledged to end the rule if elected, Mr Jackson questioned why they have not done so already. They have also so far been unable to clarify to Connexion if they would change the rule in time for the referendum, which they hope to hold before the end of 2017.

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