Long-term Brits in Italy to get back UK voting rights

Long-term Brits in Italy to get back UK voting rights
A protest against Brexit in Florence, September 2017. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
The British government announced on Thursday that it would lift a ban on citizens voting in UK elections if they had lived longer than 15 years outside the country.

The government statement said that UK citizens would now be able to vote in domestic elections regardless of how long they had been abroad, a rule change which will give millions of people living overseas the right to register to vote.

The 15-year time limit proved to be a constant source of frustration among British expats, particularly during the referendum on EU membership, when long-term expats felt like they were robbed of a voice.

“Participation in our democracy is a fundamental part of being British, no matter how far you have travelled from the UK,” Minister for the Constitution Chloe Smith. “It is right that we should remove the 15-year time limit on voting rights of British citizens living overseas and allow those who previously lived in the UK the chance to participate in our democracy.”

“Expats retain strong links with the United Kingdom: they may have family here, and indeed they may plan to return here in the future. Modern technology and cheaper air travel has transformed the ability of expats to keep in touch with their home country,” she said.