Backing the stay vote: Prime Minister David Cameron in the Canary Islands. | Neil Hall
Time is moving on for Britons to have a say in the forthcoming referendum on Britain's EU membership, which will potentially affect everyone's lives in both the UK and overseas.
The most affected British subjects are likely to be those living overseas. Anyone who has lived here for fewer than 15 years does have a say, a vote to stay or leave the EU. There is a role for everyone to play even those of us who do not qualify to vote. Read on.
To be sure of being able to vote in the referendum, you need to register your intent, and people should do this as soon as possible: the latest date is the 30 April. But I would not leave it that late.
Registering to vote is now a simple matter. People should go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. In order to register, they will need their current expatriate address, their last address in the UK, their passport details and their UK National Insurance number. Nothing sinister in any of this, these requirements are set up by the electoral commision which is totally independent of the British Government.
The website will also invite them to sign up for either a postal vote or a proxy vote. For general elections it is better to vote by proxy, because postal votes cannot be sent out until after the last date for registration of candidates and so they may arrive too late to get back in time to be counted.
However, for the referendum there are no candidates, so no need to delay sending out postal votes forms. Our advice to expatriate voters is therefore to vote by post in the referendum.
There is also an online petition addressed to the UK Government and Parliament asking that all British citizens resident overseas be enfranchised to vote in the 23 June referendum on UK membership of the European Union, without excluding those who have lived abroad for more than 15 years. The petition can be found, and it can be signed at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/112142.
Please don’t think you’re wasting your time with this. Unless the British Government sees that we're serious, and that this matters, nothing will be done.
This matter is of great importance to everyone overseas - all British expatriates. So I am urging everyone to look at the petition and sign it, and please encourage your friends anywhere even in the UK to sign it too. So far it has attracted over 16,000 signatures but we need far, far more ... ASAP!
The whole way we live our lives here in Majorca will change and possibly very much for the worse if the UK leaves the EU.