Well it’s certainly been an interesting few days here in the UK. As we still are at the moment – the United Kingdom. Although with SNP pretty well sweeping the board in Scotland, I am not sure how united we will be for much longer. And this country will be further divided by the fact that it looks almost certain we will have an EU in/out referendum within the couple of years.
One group of people who will almost certainly want a say in that will be British expats – especially those living in Europe. But, going on the many, many comments I saw on various forums and pages yesterday and the day before, that is one group who – at the moment – is feeling very disenfranchised.
What happened? It appears that the postal voting system just isn’t working. Because the voting papers couldn’t be sent out until after the final candidates had been announced, they just weren’t reaching people overseas in time for them to have their say. There are those who would question why someone living in France or Turkey or Australia or Burkina Faso SHOULD have a say in what happens here in the UK. But don’t forget, many expats are only there temporarily, many have children who will be educated back here, still recieve pensions here, still get paid (and pay taxes) here. Just because you live in another country doesn’t mean you don’t care about what happens in your home country. And there are millions of Brits who DO live in another country – and who could have made a difference to the way the vote went.
So with the possibilty of an EU referendum coming up, my recommendation to any overseas Brits would be – this time, don’t leave it to chance. At the moment I don’t think we can trust the postal system so my suggestion would be to trust a friend or relative instead and get a proxy vote. Whether we stay in or whether we withdraw from the EU is just too important a topic not to have a vote on. I still don’t know what it will mean for expats who live in EU countries, this is a topic I now intend to start investigating. But whatever happens, make sure you have your say!
Are you a British expat and if so were you able to vote? Or are you an expat from another country – in which case, what happens with your vote?