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Bremain in Spain criticises lack of 'Votes for Life' for British citizens living in EU

21 April 2017
by Bremain -- last modified 21 April 2017

As with the Referendum, the June 8 General Election disenfranchises Brits living in EU countries for 15+ years, despite Tories' 2015 manifesto promise.


Bremain in Spain, a group campaigning for the rights of British citizens in Spain, notes that the Prime Minister has called a General Election on a date that disables people who have lived overseas for over 15 years from voting, despite the Tories' 2015 manifesto promises to provide "votes for life" in subsequent elections. June 8 does not allow enough time to enable votes for life through an Act of Parliament: just as the June 23 Referendum did not allow this sizeable number of citizens to cast its vote.

At the last election, the Conservative Party manifesto explicitly stated: "We will introduce votes for life, scrapping the rule that bars British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting". This pledge was not met in time for the Brexit referendum, nor can it be met in time for the June 8 election. Consequently, yet again, British citizens living in EU countries for over 15 years will be denied a say in the formation of a government that will negotiate their future rights to live and work in EU countries.

Bremain in Spain member, Margaret King, explains how she feels about this situation: "All British citizens, including those who live outside the UK, were promised votes for life before the next general election. We now have a general election looming and still no votes for us. This election will culminate in the decision to leave the EU, or not, and will affect those of us living in the EU as much as anybody living in the UK. I want my vote that was promised!"

Another Bremain in Spain member, Steve Gilbert, adds: "Cameron promised us a vote in the next election, so did May - all I have is broken promises."

Jim Ashton, Bremain member and long-term resident of Spain, adds: "Our family of four is all of voting age. None of us can vote in this forthcoming general election. We are being denied input into our own futures."

Bremain member Mary Stringer concurs: "We are British and paid, between us, over 60 years' contributions into the UK. We deserve a say in the future, despite being out of the UK for over 15 years now."

Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain, says: ""To deny overseas Britons from voting in the referendum was a tragedy, when the results of that referendum could affect so many so adversely. For the government to now deny them yet again, after declaring that they had kept their pledge to restore these lost voting rights, is cruel and undemocratic".

Sue believes that British citizens in the EU should keep their current bundle of rights, even if they lose EU citizenship. She says: "We hope to see that principle included in party manifestos."

She continues: "British citizens, who moved to the EU in good faith, should keep every one of their existing bundle of rights. These rights should be indivisible as the right to reside would be meaningless without, for example, the right to work or to education."

Bremain in Spain calls on all UK political parties to embrace the following "people first" principle for Brexit negotiations, as laid out in the recent Alternative White Paper disseminated by the coalition of pro-Remain groups known as British for Europe.

This paper states: "The UK's withdrawal from the EU should not have retrospective effect on individuals. UK citizens currently resident in the EU and EU citizens currently resident in the UK should be expressly treated as continuing to have the same rights as they had before Brexit. This is not confined to a right of continued residence but extends to all related rights such as the acquisition of citizenship, the right to continue to work, whether employed or self-employed, or run a business, recognition of qualifications, right to study, right of equal treatment, right to move between and work freely across all EU countries without loss or change of any existing EU rights, the right to healthcare, pensions, social benefits/social assistance etc. In short, the full complex of indivisible EU citizenship rights that they currently have should be guaranteed for these individuals."

Bremain in Spain is a group that is campaigning for the UK to remain in the European Union and to protect the rights of British migrants living and working in Spain. Run by a team of volunteers and chaired by Sue Wilson - a resident of the Valencian Community - the group advocates a tolerant and outward-looking society. It believes this is best achieved by the UK remaining a member of the EU and citizens retaining freedom of movement. Bremain in Spain is actively campaigning on a number of initiatives.

Bremain in Spain
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