British expats have at long last won the right to vote in the next general election regardless of how long since they have left the country. Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed she will change the law in time for the expected 2020 poll. Thousands of expats were stopped from voting in the Brexit referendum and the recent general election as current rules bar them from taking part if they have spent more than 15 years living outside the UK. The Electoral Commission estimates that 5.5 million Brits live overseas but only had 106,000 on voting lists for the 2015 general election – the highest number ever recorded. Alex Robertson, director of communications at the Electoral Commission said: “A lot of people aren’t aware that it’s possible to register as an overseas voter for certain UK polls – UK Parliamentary General Elections, European Parliamentary elections. Many people are eligible to vote and now it’s easier than ever to take the first step by going online.”
The pledge to scrap the 15-year limit for expat voters led to a furore before the Brexit referendum.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron had promised to bring the measure in during this Parliament as part of his general election manifesto.
However he refused to pass the legislation before the Brexit vote leading to a legal challenge by expats that went to the Supreme Court, losing at every stage.