New Europeans UK launch campaign for overseas constituencies

New Europeans UK launch campaign for overseas constituencies

The reason is that this is where people are likely to have aligned interests and similar issues around matters such as status, professional recognition and pensions, say New Europeans UK.

This is preferable to “slotting” them in under one of the 650 parliamentary constituencies in the UK, it was said.

Often MPs representing constituencies in the UK have “little understanding of the many and varied issues facing Brits abroad”, the meeting heard.

New Europeans UK organised the meeting on overseas constituencies following the launch of the campaign for overseas constituencies earlier in the year.

Participants included Tom Brake, director of Unlock Democracy and former Lib Dem MP, and Prof Ruvi Ziegler, chair of New Europeans UK.

Groups representing Britons living and working abroad also joined the meeting.

Lord Rennard, who was responsible for the inclusion of overseas constituencies in previous Lib Dem manifestos, and who has raised the issue in the House of Lords, also addressed the meeting.

The meeting was told a fresh push will be made to get the issue of overseas constituencies on the UK parliamentary agenda of a new government and build up support for the campaign in the meantime.

A UK national election is expected next year (the latest by January 2025) and according to the polls, a Labour or Labour led government is set to take power.

Labour, it was said, recognises that the current system of government does not work and is committed to parliamentary reform.

Two sets of plans have been outlined by Labour which, it was said, could provide campaigners with an opportunity to also raise the need for overseas constituencies to properly represent Brits abroad.

– Labour has plans to give the vote to 16-17 olds (this is in their latest manifesto) and

– Labour has discussed plans to give long-term residents (including EU citizens) in the UK the vote in national elections.

All UK political parties have just issued policy documents / manifestos ahead of their recent party conferences. But overseas constituencies have not yet made it into the latest manifestoes/policy documents of the three main parties.

The Lib Dems have included overseas constituents in previous manifestos but not in their latest policy document.

However, it could be included ahead of the election as with the other parties.

The meeting heard that votes for over 16 years olds and long term residents in the UK should open up an opportunity for wider debate.

These may also give parliamentarians a chance to table amendments

There is also a possibility that Ireland will introduce overseas constituencies which could then influence a UK government.

Voter registration could work better if tied to overseas constituencies.

Campaigners also want to see automatic voter registration, and Lord Rennard thought that is something a Labour government might also look at.

The overseas constituency campaign is not a campaign to change the electorate as all Britons abroad will now have the right to vote after the abolition of the 15 year rule.

This is something New Europeans UK campaigned successfully for.

The meeting heard that this is not a party political campaign but, rather, about Brits abroad being properly represented by an MP in parliament.

New Europeans UK are also in support of giving long term residents, including EU citizens, in the UK the vote in national elections.

The two should compliment each other or are two sides of the same coin, a spokeswoman said.

The campaign aims for overseas constituencies (number of new MPs) to be in addition to the current 650 MPs.

The campaign has not committed to a definitive number of overseas constituencies. There are currently as many as 3.5 million Brits abroad who could be eligible to vote.

But voter registration is relatively low and a registration drive (as prior to previous elections) is needed.

Lord Rennard said that when he speaks to peers from other parties in the House of Lords, they are not necessarily against overseas constituencies but need to understand more about it.

He said that if a future Labour government looks at boundary changes and automatic voter registration – then these are points at which to lobby for overseas constituencies.

He highlighted the importance of building up support for our campaign and getting the attention of parliamentarians ahead of polling day. – In his experience, if plans are in place for the first term of a government, then much more likely to happen, and otherwise won’t happen.

The campaign spokesman told this site: “We are expecting an MP who supports overseas constituencies to table an early day motion in the coming months. This should help generate support among parliamentarians and for us to identify who supports the idea.

“We have also got a template letter which people can send to their MPs to urge them to support our campaign for overseas constituencies along with a petition.

These are currently on the website for Unlock Democracy and we will link to these once New Europeans UK have our campaign page up and running.”

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