A Conservative victory at the UK general elections means the UK will now be expected to hold to a pledge to end the 15-year limit on the expat vote. That was one of the party’s main promises to Britons overseas, and it was the only party to offer it unequivocally. However, the Conservatives will also now be expected to follow through with another policy likely to divide expats much more – an in/out referendum on the EU, by the end of 2017. The party has not clarified if it would give the vote back to long-term expats in time to take part in it.
The party’s manifesto says about the expat vote: “We will complete the electoral register, by working to include more of the five million Britons who live abroad. We will introduce votes for life, scrapping the rule that bars British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting.”
As for the referendum, the party says it is required to give the British “real change and real choice on Europe”. It means that the UK will now press for further concessions, probably on the right of free movement to live and work in the UK.