Campaigners have welcomed plans to abolish the rule which bans UK voters overseas from voting in British general elections after they have been abroad for period of 15 years or more. They were commenting to news that the overseas electors bill had passed the second reading stage in the UK House of Commons. Speaking on Tuesday, Roger Casale, the founder of citizens’ rights group New Europeans, said, “This is great news.” He told this website, “The goal of abolishing the 15-year rule does at last seem to be in sight. I am happy above all for all Britons abroad who do not want to lose their democratic voice and the right to vote.”
The Conservatives first included the measure in their manifesto in 2015, following pressure from civil society groups like New Europeans, Conservatives Abroad and Labour International.
However, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron did not abolish the 15-year rule before the EU referendum and as a result, over 1.5 million British citizens living in Europe were not able to vote.
In 2017, the measure looked like being slipped from the Conservative manifesto before an intervention from Casale, who succeeded in having the pledge reinstated.