A Conservative MP will make a last-ditch attempt tomorrow to get the 15-year rule affecting British expats abolished before next year’s general election. The rule blocks Britons overseas from voting in UK elections if they have been out of the country for longer than 15 years. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown will make a speech under the Ten Minute Rule – a procedure that allows MPs to seek the leave of the house to introduce a Bill – seeking to restore the vote to all British citizens. Mr Clifton Brown will ask “that leave be given to bring in a Bill to allow British citizens resident overseas for more than 15 years to vote in UK parliamentary elections and referendums, and for connected purposes”. However, he expects that this will be opposed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who have successfully resisted previous efforts to abolish the 15-year rule. The ban on voting affects an estimated 1.5 million of the five million Britons living overseas.
Mr Clifton-Brown said today that “it’s about time that this wrong is put right”. However, he acknowledged: “It’s difficult to get a controversial Bill like this one through. Being realistic I think it’s unlikely, but you never know.”
He added that the Bill would go through if it was adopted by the Government, but since the Conservatives are in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, this is unlikely to happen. “If it went through I would be tickled pink,” he added.