Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to hold a snap general election on June 8th means British voters who have been in Spain for over 15 years will once again be denied their say, after being promised a vote.
The Tory government announced last year after the Brexit referendum that it would introduce a bill to scrap the unpopular 15-year-limit on expat voting rights in time for the next general election.
However, since PM May made the shock announcement on Tuesday that she planned to hold a snap election on June 8th, it’s clear the limit will not be changed in time, meaning tens of thousands of longterm expats living in Spain and other countries worldwide will be disenfranchized yet again.
British citizens living abroad who successfully campaigned against the 15-year-rule for many years will now be furious at the thought of not having a vote once again, despite being promised it after the momentous 2016 Brexit referendum which directly affects them.
The conservative government had included a pledge to scrap the 15-year-limit in its 2015 election manifesto and last year announced the “votes for life” bill would be drawn up in time for the 2020 general election. It seems that it will not be ready in time for the vote in June.
A petition was started on Wednesday demanding that the right to vote in the June 8th general election be extended to all British citizens abroad.
"We, the undersigned, are asking you, Theresa May, to extend the fundamental right to a vote to all British citizens, regardless of where in the world they reside or how long they have lived outside the UK," wrote Chris Madsen, a resident of Marseille, France on the Change.org petition
Forums were quickly filled with complaints by those British residents abroad riled at the idea that they would yet again be disenfranchised.
“We are furious, that the vote for life hasn't been implemented before this election, abandoned yet again,” said Valerie Chaplin, a member of Bremain in Spain, which campaigns for the rights of British people in Spain.
Brits who are eligible to vote must make sure they are on the electoral roll and apply for a postal or a proxy vote.