All British expatriates could get the vote. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter - EFE


The Queen's speech in May last year included the British government reviewing the 15-year voting rule for expatriates which was extended by former Prime Minister Tony Blair. As a result, British expatriates who have been living outside of the UK for more than 15 years lost their rights to vote in UK general elections.

However, 100-year-old Harry Shindler, who lives in Italy and has tirelessly campaigned to give Britons living or working abroad the right to vote, appears to have won his campaign, for which he was awarded the MBE. Shindler challenged the current 15-year limit on voting rights in the High Court in 2016 and in the European Court of Justice in 2018 and the proposed scrapping of the law has been given the green light by the House of Lords.

The election bill will now be reviewed before returning to Parliament where MPs will vote on the proposed change.

The limit has been a long-standing point of contention. This was especially true during the 2016 Brexit referendum. Tens of thousands of expatriates were blocked from voting after finding out they had exceeded the time limit.

The Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Lord True, said at the time: "In an increasingly global and connected world, most British citizens living overseas retain deep ties to the United Kingdom. Many still have family here, have a history of hard work in the UK behind them, and some have even fought for our country.

"These measures support our vision for a truly Global Britain, opening up our democracy to British citizens living overseas who deserve to have their voices heard in our Parliament, no matter where they choose to live."

Britons now look set to have more of a say in issues spanning foreign policy, defence, immigration, pensions and trade deals. Electors will also be able to reapply for a postal vote or refresh their proxy vote at the same time as renewing their voter registration. This will streamline the process, helping to ensure overseas voters have appropriate voting arrangements in place ahead of an election.