You aptly reported all day on the 400,000 thousand French citizens living in the UK for whom 30 polling stations were open to cast their votes in the French Presidential election. In London, the 6th French city in the world, you showed thousands queuing up to vote and interviewed the French Ambassador to the UK. He underscored that the million French diaspora citizens are close to France, sharing the same tough issues as those living in France. They are also interested in schools, the international role of France, and ‘like everyone else in my country’ their concerns are roughly the same – unemployment and current crises, Does not the same apply to the millions of British expats who lose the vote after 15 years’ abroad?
The Home Office’s argument that after 15 years’ away, they are deemed not be connected to the UK and could change nationality, over-rides their human and civil rights in which the UK is out of step with its peers and out of conformity with international obligations. That right to vote is a fundamental tenet of the British Constitution. The right to vote without time restrictions is wholly consistent with relevant international instruments. However, unlike many other countries, the UK is one of the most restrictive in depriving its expatriates of these democratic rights. British expats are also part of our community representing a core value of globalisation. They share their cultural heritage with others and constitute a rich, global network of resources and new energy to tap. Surely they deserve the same consideration as French citizens abroad?
Check out www.votes-for-expat-brits.com
Dr Sylvia Moore (M.Litt Oxon)
British global professional, resident in France