What do UK parties offer for Britons abroad in election manifestos?

We look at policies from the Conservatives, Lib Dem, Labour, Reform, the Greens and more

four-way spoilt image of   Ed davey, Rishi Sunak, Nigel Farage and Keir Starmer
Clockwise from top left: Lib Dem leader Ed Davey, Conservative leader Rishi Sunak, Reform UK leader Nigel Farage, and Labour leader Keir Starmer

We look at what the main UK parties are offering to entice some 237,000 who registered to vote for them in the UK parliamentary elections on Friday July 4.

Issues that affect UK nationals living abroad include their limited political representation, frozen UK pensions in Australia or Canada, high UK international university fees, problems obtaining French visas, and greatly reduced post-Brexit opportunities for young people to live and work in the EU.

Read more: UK election: Low take-up by overseas British voters with new rights

Here is what some of the main parties are offering:

Conservative Party: The party told The Connexion they see France as a friend and would continue to work closely on issues such as opposing the war in Ukraine and fighting terrorism, extremism and illegal migration. 

They are “proud” of ‘votes for life’ and pledge to continue the ‘triple lock’ that protects the state pension rate. They promise to appoint a Minister for British Citizens Overseas to represent them across government. 

The Conservative government expressed interest this year in reciprocal youth mobility schemes with individual EU states such as France (but not the EU in general).

Liberal Democrats: They are the only party to include a promise of overseas constituencies for Britons abroad in their manifesto. 

This would mean Britons abroad would have dedicated MPs rather than having to remain attached to their old UK constituency.

The party told The Connexion they want a new agreement with the EU reducing trade barriers, adding that at a later stage they would seek to rejoin the single market. 

If this happened, it would end the 90/180-days visits restriction and the need for visas and residency cards to move to France. 

EU membership “remains our longer-term objective”, the party said. 

They would also return to the Erasmus student exchange programme and seek a reciprocal free youth mobility visa scheme with the EU for people up to age 35, for a three-year period. 

They would maintain the triple-lock.

Labour Party: They would stay outside the single market but seek to “deepen ties with European friends” and “tear down unnecessary barriers to trade,” according to the manifesto.

The party would maintain the triple lock.

They did not respond to our questions, including whether they would maintain ‘votes for life’, which they consistently opposed in the past, however their manifesto includes no policy on this. 

They have also outlined plans to ‘strengthen’ consular support with a right to assistance if human rights are violated.

Reform UK: They favour reducing co-operation with the EU in terms of trade, laws and military planning. Their manifesto makes no mention of Britons abroad.

The Green Party: They support re-joining the EU as soon as the domestic political situation is favourable and EU member states are willing.

Their MPs would initially work towards rejoining the customs union, and bringing back free movement of people. 

They also support rejoining Erasmus.

The Scottish National Party: They support rejoining the EU ro ‘reverse the damage of Brexit and re-enter the single market restoring free movement for EU citizens’. 

Plaid Cymru: They support rejoining the EU, but also ultimately want Wales to leave the UK.