Britons in the EU told to push now for overseas constituencies

The lead-up to the next UK general election is the perfect time to sign the petition and write to your previous MP, says lobbying charity

The charity New Europeans UK wants designated MPs to represent the interests of Britons living overseas
Published Last updated

The run-up to the UK general election, to be held at the latest by January 28, 2025, is the ideal time to lobby for the establishment of overseas constituencies for Britons abroad, say campaigners.

They want Britons to sign a petition and to lobby their MPs.

The charity New Europeans UK, which supports Britons in the EU, gave feedback to us after an all-party parliamentary group meeting at Westminster Hall last month that it helped organise.

Spokeswoman Else Kvist said attendees included Lib Dem peer Lord Rennard, who was responsible for including overseas constituencies in the last Lib Dem manifesto.

She noted that it is unconfirmed if it will be in any manifesto next time.

France, by contrast, has 11 MPs for French people living abroad, with the world divided into constituencies.

Read more: French abroad are valued as our local ambassadors, says senator

Three million potential voters abroad

Ms Kvist said attendees discussed how the current system does not represent Britons abroad adequately.

“MPs deal with people in their constituencies and don’t understand issues facing Britons around the world, concerning their status, pensions, professional recognition, etc,” she said.

She said former Lib Dem MP Tom Brake suggested 10 MPs but Lord Rennard said, after conversations with Labour colleagues, that five is more realistic.

Compared to the number of Britons abroad, estimated to be more than three million potential voters, it should be more, but Parliament and a new government would be unlikely to entertain it, he believes.

He added that while Labour colleagues may not be familiar with the idea, they are not necessarily opposed once it is explained.

Photo: New Europeans UK chair Ruvi Ziegler (centre) with Lord Rennard (left) and Tom Brake (right); Credit: Else Kvist

Mr Brake said there is a chance to make headway if the election brings a change of government.

“Labour recognises the parliamentary system needs reform,” said Ms Kvist.

It has, for example, shown openness to votes for 16-year-olds and foreign long-term residents, and boundary reforms.

Call to sign petition

The meeting noted that the UK is restoring, from January, the right for all adult Britons abroad to vote if they previously lived in the UK, so special constituencies would not add new voters, just represent them better.

It could make good sense for them to register where they live, not in a place to which they might now have no link.

Ireland is said to be considering the idea too, Ms Kvist said.

Read more: January target for UK to restore lost vote for Britons in France

A UK MP is expected to table an early-day motion about it. The campaign was also hoping to capitalise on any voting issues raised in The King’s Speech this month but the subject was not raised.

“We need to galvanise support from parliamentarians before polling day, so when they start planning their first five years in office, they consider this.”

Readers can sign a petition and, if they wish, send an email to the MP for their last UK constituency, which for Britons abroad will usually be their constituency for the next elections.

Further information is being published on the New Europeans UK website.

Related articles

Britons in France to reclaim right to vote but what paperwork needed?

EU court to rule on Briton's right to vote in EU elections

Residency cards, expulsions, second homes: what French bill proposes