Votes for Life for expats left out of Queen's Speech

A law change to allow all British people living abroad to vote in UK elections for life is not mentioned in the Queen’s speech today, despite being a Conservative party pledge in both recent elections.

21 June 2017
By Connexion journalist

The speech – read by the Queen, but written by the government – outlines plans for legislation for the coming session of parliament, which, unusually, is expected to last two years this time instead of the usual one.

Scrapping the 15-year voting limit for expats, which was first listed in the 2015 Queen’s Speech and was once again a Conservative manifesto pledge this year, is nowhere to be found in speech as delivered or in the full 82-page notes document.

The failure of the Cameron government to implement the policy led to many Britons abroad being unable to take part in the last two general elections or the Brexit referendum – which also forms a key plank in the challenge being mounted against the referendum by Bordeaux lawyer Julien Fouchet (we report further on the progress of his case in July’s edition of The Connexion newspaper).

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In her introduction to the speech notes, UK Prime Minister Theresa May admits that the recent election result was “not the one I hoped for” and says that her priority is “getting Brexit right”. The speech says the government "will ensure that the United Kingdom’s leading role on the world stage is maintained and enhanced as it leaves the European Union".

It includes a repeal bill to repeal the European Communities Act which made EU law enforceable in the UK, as well as several other bills aimed at helping the country cope with Brexit, including an immigration one allowing the government to end free movement from Europe and control the number of people coming from the EU while still attracting ‘the brightest and the best’.

The speech says that aside from those it chooses to relax the rules for, people wanting to come to the UK after Brexit and their family members will be “subject to relevant UK law”.

Connexion has asked the Cabinet Office why Votes for Life is not in the bill.

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