UK election: what policies for expats?

With the UK General Election imminent, Connexion contacted the main parties for their manifestos and/or details on their policies affecting Britons abroad. UKIP and SNP’s manifestos were unavailable and they did not respond to requests. 

24 May 2017
By Connexion journalist

Conservatives

  • The party maintains its promise to introduce ‘votes for life’ for expatriates.
  • State pension triple lock to be maintained to 2020, then replaced by ‘double lock’ (rise in line with earnings or inflation, whichever is highest; the triple lock adds 2.5%).
  • Leave the single market and customs union, but negotiate favourable trading terms. Seek to ‘secure the entitlements of EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU’. Parliament to have a vote on exit deal. The party says trading arrangements should be concluded at the same time as the exit deal. ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’.
  • The UK may wish to continue with certain EU programmes and pay a contribution for this.
  • Aims to cut immigration to less than 100,000/year (compared to 273,000). It will reduce and control numbers from the EU, prioritising skilled workers.

Labour

  • The party accepts the referendum result, but aims to give a ‘meaningful role’ to Parliament in negotiations.
  • Scrap Tory Brexit White Paper and have new negotiating priorities, including ‘maintaining benefits’ of the single market and customs union (but not necessarily by staying within them).
  • Immediately guarantee existing rights of all EU nationals in the UK and seek reciprocal rights for UK citizens in the EU. ‘No deal’ is the worst scenario and would reject this as a viable option. Would negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid ‘cliff-edge’.
  • Drop the Great Repeal Bill, replacing it with an EU Rights and Protections Bill to ensure no detrimental change to workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections.
  • Seek to maintain membership of cross-border agencies like Eurojust and Europol, and the European Arrest Warrant scheme. Seek to maintain the same participation in Erasmus.
  • Guarantee pension triple lock for the next parliament
  • End pension freezing for expats (currently applied to those in many countries outside the EU) and provide some compensation to women born in the 1950s who had their state pension age changed “without fair notification”. Pension age will be 66 by 2020; Labour rejects plans to increase it further.

Liberal Democrats

  • End the 15-year voting limit for General Elections and referendums, so all Britons overseas can take part
  • Create special MPs with overseas constituencies to represent expats
  • On Brexit, a second referendum on the final divorce deal, with the option to stay. The party would also seek to avoid a ‘hard Brexit’.
  • It says remaining in the EU is best, but if the UK leaves it wants to stay in the single market and customs union and retain the rights for Britons to live and work in Europe. Seek to protect opportunities for young people such as Erasmus+ and to maintain UK participation in defence and security cooperation, Horizon 2020 (university research grants), Euratom and other cross-border agencies.
  • Supports voluntary ‘associate EU citizenship’ for Britons who want it.
  • Commits to using its strength in parliament to press for the UK to unilaterally guarantee rights of EU natio­nals in the UK and simplify procedures for permanent residence. It would also urge the government and use its influence with liberal leaders in EU countries, to seek to obtain the same for UK citizens living in the rest of the EU.
  • Strive to retain travel benefits such as the EHIC, reduced roaming charges and pet passports, at risk due to Brexit
  • Maintain pension triple lock
  • Allow UK citizens in the EU to maintain after Brexit all their current rights, including pension uprating.

Green

  • The manifesto was not available on going to press, but the party provided information on its position on Brexit.
  • Hold a referendum on the final deal, with an option to remain in the EU. This is not a ‘re-run’ but a chance for people to have an ‘informed say’ once the Brexit details are known.
  • The party believes the UK is better off in the EU, but considers a soft Brexit with membership of the single market to be greatly preferable to an ‘extreme’ Brexit.
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