Lib Dem Manifesto: a lighthouse and a lifeline for Brits in Europe

May 17, 2017 1:59 PM

GE 2017

The Liberal Democrat Manifesto, published today - Wednesday 17 May - has been hailed by Brussels and Europe Lib Dems (BELD) as a 'lighthouse and a lifeline' for 1.3mn British citizens living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland.

The Manifesto makes three pledges in relation to the 5.5mn Brits Abroad in general, and those who live in the EU 27, specifically.

Laura Shields, Chair of Brussels and Europe Lib Dems said:

'It represents the most complete offer of any political Party regarding the British diaspora in Europe ever'.

Contained in the manifesto is a commitment that a Liberal Democrat Government will:
Guarantee the EU acquired rights of British citizens living in the EU 27, EEA and Switzerland after Brexit;

Restore the vote of millions of currently disenfranchised by introducing votes for life for ALL British citizens in UK national elections and referendums;

Create dedicated constituencies for all overseas voters to elect MPs to the Westminster Parliament.

Guarantee on EU acquired rights

Concerning the pledge to guarantee the rights of Brits in the EU 27, Laura Shields said:

'This is a lighthouse and a lifeline for Brits in the EU 27, who have been in the eye of the Brexit storm for almost a year. Unlike the Tories, the Lib Dems don't need to be forced to do the right thing when it comes to protecting people - whether it's Brits in Europe or EU nationals in the UK. We won't horse trade with people's lives'.

Votes for life

At present, British citizens who were on the electoral register before they moved to have live permanently outside the UK have lost their vote after 15 years. Consequently, they are ineligible to vote in national elections or referendums, including for many the 'Brexit' referendum of 2016 despite it having a direct impact on their future. The pledge to restore votes for life for all Brits living overseas follows a 20 year campaign by campaign groups including Brussels and Europe Lib Dems.

At present, Brits who still have the right to vote remain on the overseas electors list of the constituency in which they were last registered.

Overseas constituencies

Some countries - including France and Italy - allow their citizens resident overseas to vote and elect MPs in dedicated constituencies for overseas voters. These MPs are tasked with looking after this group's specific needs. This is an acknowledgement of the complex and different needs of these nationals - many of whom still pay taxes and have strong family connections with their mother country.

Laura Shields added:

'Voting should be a human right, not a political football. Lib Dems recognise that the UK's overseas nationals are ambassadors for their country and should not be punished for daring to live abroad. Overseas constituencies are a welcome step towards recognising and addressing the role and needs of Britain's overseas population'.

Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats (BELD) is the local party of the UK Liberal Democrats in Brussels and Europe. Its membership has more than tripled since Brexit and now numbers over 1400.


Laura Shields, Chair Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats
Tel: + 32 (0) 497 409 884 Twitter: @mediawhizz @brusselslibdems

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