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Update of 4 February 2014



But could it be resurrected?


Our heartfelt thanks to the Members of the House of Lords who spoke so eloquently and tellingly against this absurd referendum, notably those who have occupied major positions in the European Union, its institutions and the UK's Permanent Representation, and who actually understand what it is about and what the real issues are.


Who needs the Vote?  The Government? or/and The Citizen?

On Friday 31st January in the House of Lords The EU Referendum Bill – died - but it is far from dead!    What does that mean for us?  Quite a lot!

Your help needed – see below**.

Lord Lipsey,  the archetypal ‘we rule – you are ruled’ politician, tabled the motion that the House should  ‘resume’! This arcane procedure meant that the Committee stage of the House debating the Referendum Bill came to an abrupt end and so did the Bill itself!  It is all slightly strange to those unfamiliar with the way ‘our’ government proceeds.

The Bill had a gaping great hole in its construction so far as the Citizen Abroad who lives in other States of the EU are concerned.  Unless the British Citizen had left less than fifteen ago he/she could have no vote in the referendum.  So although their lives could be turned upside down following the possibility of an OUT vote created by the resident British population, they could have no democratic say in the laws and treaties which affect their future, and it seems that most other expatriates are blind to the consequences. We were not to be consulted because ‘they’ rule – n’est-ce pas!

It is frankly tragic that so few citizens abroad in the EU realise the dangerous cliff edge which was appearing in front of them.

But Citizens across the world are also affected, for what affects the Government’s attitude towards the British Citizen in the EU also affects them.

THIS BILL will return effectively in an unchanged form UNLESS the British Citizens abroad DEMAND change! Demand Representation! Demand the Vote! But ‘the rulers have ruled’ from time immemorial, but should this be their attitude?  Should there not be a dialogue?

If the Conservatives win at the next election, Mr. Cameron has made it quite clear that a new Referendum Bill would appear and would be forced through Parliament almost exactly in its present form.

It is my view that a Referendum might have one good outcome.  That is - as long as the result is ‘yes’!   It would lance the festering boil of contention over this issue in Britain, and ensure that Britain is where it should be as a leading nation in Europe. But surely ! any new Referendum Bill should not ignore the British Citizens in  the rest of Europe!  But it most certainly will unless we, the citizens abroad, put aside our distrust of all politicians and say in no uncertain voice - WE WANT TO BE REPRESENTED.   We need to be Represented. We count! We are British Citizens!

A number of members of the Lords spoke well in our interest on Friday. Among these were the Lords Shipley, Bowness, Baroness Quinn, Kerr of Kinlochard, Williams of Elvel,  and others.  I was interested to hear Lord Kinnock refer to the oft-repeated phrase ‘no taxation without representation’ . He was referring to the French residents in Britain but the same could be said of  so many Britons Abroad who by law have to pay tax to the UK! These are the politicians who think differently – their mind set is ‘We rule but we listen to the citizen’ .  “We rule by consent”  They may be unelected peers but quite a few listen to the citizens.

I am quite certain, from personal mails to me, that leading proponents of this Bill, are sympathetic to our cause, but the appalling apparent lack of interest by the expatriate citizen in the political scene, is ruining our position and if we do not stand up now and say WE WANT TO HAVE REPRESENTATION IN THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT then we might well not get it in our lifetime.

The reason why the Politicians are indifferent to us, is because most of us are indifferent towards them!  This must change.

**Your help is needed.

We need to publicise in ten Bullet Points why the British Citizen Abroad needs to be represented in the British Parliament.

It is necessary that the needs of the citizen are heard.


It is necessary for good Government and the ongoing prestige of Britain that the citizen is consulted. It is in the interest of The Government that ‘we have the vote’!

Send me your thoughts - your list. Covering why the Government needs to represent us in the interest of the British Nation as well as why we need this representation in our own interest.

The final list will be publicised through all the media outlets we can muster.

Now is the hour to stand! For the right to be heard, and the need to listen.


Hansard report can be read here.

Begin at column 1532 for the amendment 57 on ‘Entitlement to vote in the Referendum’.

With good internet reception you can view the Parliament TV. Recoding at:--

Begin towards 2.15 p.m.

Profiles of the Lords who spoke can be read here.


Brian Cave (


Update of 8 July 2013

The Referendum ACT (House of Commons July 5th 2013)  [In/Out of the EU]


Reading Hansard on this debate,  there seems to have been just one MP who referred to the 1.4 million British Citizens who  reside in mainland Europe.  This is it! There appears to be no other, and no other MP (as far as I can tell - I do not think I could have missed it) took up the point that Martin Horwood made.  This silence is shocking. (emphasis NKN)


Martin Horwood (Cheltenham, Liberal Democrat)

The Bill also needs to deal with a problem relating to the franchise. Some 1.4 million British citizens reside elsewhere than in the UK, but according to the terms of the Bill the referendum will be based on the Westminster franchise. As far as I can tell, that has only about 19,000 registered overseas voters, so more than 1 million Britons, whose lives will be fundamentally affected by this change—they are British passport holders resident in other parts of the EU—will be disfranchised in this referendum. By this formula, the Bill will give votes to Cypriot and Maltese citizens living in this country, because under theWestminster franchise Commonwealth citizens have the vote, but it will not give the vote to French, Italian or German citizens. So there are a lot of inconsistencies, and this issue has not been debated at all so far.

It is absolutely essential that the British citizens resident in mainland Europe have a voice. The lives of thousands (including mine) could be seriously changed if Britain pulls out of the European Union.

Why do the MPs in Westminster ignore us? We have no political voice.

(Author Brian Cave –




Update of 2 July 2013

Letter from Margaret Hales, Alicante Spain to the All Parliamentary Working Group Committee on Overseas Voting


Margaret Hales, from Alicante Spain, who has in her family ancestry, Emmeline Pankhurst, the famous suffragette, has written the following letter to the All Parliamentary Working Group Committee on Overseas Voting.







Update of 21 June 2013


All Party working group on overseas voting.


The first meeting of this parliamentary group was held on June 19th at Westminster.

Professor Lord Norton of Louth was in the chair.  Committee members came from the Liberal- Democrat Party (a peer), two from the Conservatives (Lord Lexden and an MP) , The Labour representative (a peer) was not able to attend.


The arrangement for this meeting was  hastily made which made it difficult for people to attend to give evidence, but Heather Harper [Chairman of Conservatives Abroad] arrived and has reported back to those of us who are active in getting news circulated. My comments on the meeting are below.


A comment from Lord Norton is troubling.  He said that the Committee had been set up primarily to examine ways to boost overseas registration.  In my view that somewhat misses the point.  Heather made observations on the 15 year rule – registration procedures- overseas representation.- online registration - and related matters.

Heather observed that she had lived for 14 years overseas and she said that she was concerned for the rights ofALL British expatriates from ending the 15 year rule to procedures for registration.  She also made plea for an on-line public awareness campaign to reach the 5.5 million British expatriates living worldwide.


Heather also quoted comments from myself.  These comments were two fold.

The Representation of the Citizen Abroad.

The need for an ‘understanding’ representation. 

Overseas Citizens have lives similar to those of on-shore residents. The economic and social organisations ofBritain are important to all. To greater or lesser degree we all are dependent on or otherwise concerned aboutBritain

Does it not suggest that a system of Representation as the French have, is desirable?

For these reasons  the comment by Lord Norton is disturbing. In my view that does not explore the situation deeply enough.

The European Referendum.

It is surely a ‘no-brainer’ [as they say] that those who would be most affected by a withdrawal  by Britain from the EU should have a say in any such Referendum.  That is to say – a VOTE.  But no such thought appears to have been presented by the Government that the Britons residing in the EU beyond Britain should have that vote.


Harry Shindler will be pleased enough if the 15 year limit alone is removed. But there are deeper considerations.


The next meeting is on July 3rd at 3.30 p.m. [Committee Room 4 – Palace of Westminster]

Attendance at the meeting may be possible for representatives of interested groups. Written evidence is possible.To enable either, one should contact the Committee organiser, Mr Jonathan Blades at Westminster,


Brian Cave




Update of 11 June 2013 from the Votes for Expat Bits Blog

 EU Support for Expat Brit Right to Vote

by right2vote4xpatbrits

In a press conference last week to present the 2013 EU Citizenship Report, Viviane Reding, the Commission Vice President announced that they will seek to help Britons who live abroad to keep their right to vote after the 15 year period is over.

“The practice in some member states of depriving their citizens of their right to vote once they move to another EU country is effectively tantamount to punishing citizens for having exercised their right to free movement.”

This would bring the UK into line with most other member states of the European Union (EU), in allowing their non-resident citizens to continue to vote nationally in their home nations, that is apart from eg Ireland and Denmark.

It would also ensure that all British citizens resident in another EU country at the time ofthe proposed In/Out Referendum on continuing UK membership of the EU, would be able to exercise their democratic right to vote.

For all the latest updates visit us on the blog page of our campaigning website , share us /Votes-for-expat-Brits or follow us on

You can also make sure whether you can still vote or not by visiting the Electoral Commission website way it would be appreciated if you could show your support for our campaign to remove the 15-year-limit on our voting rights by adding your vote here in our on-line poll.



Update from 20 May 2013 from Pensioners Debout


Two correspondents [Including the Algarve Press] have pointed out to me the importance of the EU Commissioner's report (Viviane Reding  Vice President EU) on the matter of EU citizenship and the necessity to maintain the voting by citizens for their National Parliaments.
I have made this point  in the past. view
The EU is a kind of network of nations.  Each person relates to their nation of origin as well as to their local State of residence.  This cross binding binds the EU.  A British person abroad in Europe is an ambassador of Britain.  It is logical that he/she has a right to have an opinion in both camps just a Pole or German living in Britain should enjoy the right to express an opinion in both countries.  For now it is pressingly important that Britons have the right to vote for representation in the Westminster Parliament.
Viviane Reding Writes.....

  1. To strengthen citizens’ participation in the democratic process, we will work on ways to enable EU citizens to keep their right to vote in national elections in their country of origin. The practice in some Member States of depriving their citizens of their right to vote once they move to another EU country (disenfranchisement) is effectively tantamount to punishing citizens for having exercised their right to free movement.

Harry Shindler fought and fights on for this right and clearly Viviane Reding agrees with him.  The ECHR did not agree!




Update from 20 May 2013: From Pensioners Debout!


Two important links have arrived on my computer today.  I recirculate

1.    Liberal Democrats in EUROPE demand that British Citizens Abroad should retain the Right to VOTE in British Elections.
This was not the view of Nick Clegg a short while ago!

2.  From Jon Danzig - Journalist and ex BBC journalist.
An interview with Nigel Farage on the possible plight of pensioner expats in Spain, along with a considerable counter attack on UKIP's policies as described by Farage.






Update from 7 May 2013


Harry Shindler rejected by the

European Court of Human Rights!

The European Court of Human Rights has turned down (7th May 2013) Harry Shindler’s  claim to be allowed to vote for an MP in the House of Commons.

The full text (which runs to 38 pages) can be read here!


Harry is 91. He fought in World War II at the Anzio Beach-head.[Anzio is south of Rome and north of the stalemated front line of Monte Cassino – The beach-head played an important if bloody role in the Allied advance in 1944].  Harry is both a proud Briton and proud European.

The ECHR judgement gives much space to the Parliamentary Assembly of the  Council of Europe [page 10 et seq.]   [The CoE comprises 47 signatory countries far beyond the EU, including  Russia, Turkey and Armenia]

Neither the ECHR nor the CoE are agencies of the European Union!


The Parliamentary  Assembly recommends as follows [page 10 ]

Par. 39 “c. consider the possibility of harmonising member states’ laws in the interests of maintaining the voting rights of their nationals living in another member state with regard to nation-wide elections and referenda, especially with a view to enabling votes to be cast by post or through diplomatic or consular missions;

d. envisage, if appropriate, the drawing up of a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights whereby member states would undertake to respect such voting rights for their nationals living in another member state and refrain from hindering the exercise thereof by any measure whatever.

Further it is noted [page 11]…

Par. 42 - 4. The Parliamentary Assembly believes that it is in the interest of states to ensure that their expatriate nationals continue to actively exercise their rights linked to nationality and contribute in a variety of ways to the political, economic, social and cultural development of their countries of origin

And [page 11/12].

Par. 43 c. to take account of their expatriates’ interest in policy making, in particular concerning questions of nationality; political rights, including voting rights; economic rights, including taxation and pension rights; social rights, including social schemes; and cultural rights .

And Again [page 12]!!

Par. 47 --b. grant electoral rights to all their citizens (nationals), without imposing residency requirements;

c. facilitate the exercise of expatriates’ electoral rights by providing for absentee voting procedures

And the analysis of the Parliamentary Assembly  comments continues to page 15…


The report comments on the deliberations of the Committee of Ministers of the  Council of Europe which generally support the observations given above.


Considerable space is also afforded [pages 16-19] to deliberations of the Venice Commission – which is another offshoot of the Council of Europe and concerns itself with the issue of Democracy!  This account is an historical  progress and one should read from page 18 paragraph 68 onwards for the latest observations.

Note well it recommends on ‘voting’ ---

Sub paragraph 66. It ensures that citizens maintain ties with their country of origin and boosts their feeling of belonging to a nation of which they are members regardless of geographical, economic or political circumstances.”

70. In the case of states whose citizens live abroad in large numbers, to the extent that their votes could appreciably affect election results, it seems more appropriate to provide parliamentary representation for the citizens resident abroad by pre-defined numbers of members of parliament elected by them.


Pge 19 – para 74 The document lists the 35 States (out of the 47 in the CoE)  which permit unlimited voting by non-resident nationals.


In spite of all this detail the ECHR decided unanimously against Harry Shindler.


The legal argument centred on Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention of Human Rights.

“The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.”


1. Declares the complaint concerning Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;

2. Holds that there has been no violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention.


You can judge for yourself.

What will Harry do now!  

He will take his case to the United Nations International Court of Justice.


UNLESS – The British Government will take fair measures to uphold the Rights of  British Nationals to be able to influence the British Government on decisions made by HMG in their name!

Much has been written already on why British Nationals – most especially those residing within the EU/EEA – should have this representation.    The first link below has numerous comments by British Nationals why this should be so…


You can make your own protestations and petition via the following two links.   Here to place your observations.

and – direct to the Government site ---


Author Brian Cave –



Update after European Parliament Citizenship Hearing on 19 February 2013

Three of us, members of the Bureau of the Europeans throughout the World (President Paschalis Papachristopoulos, Vice-President Karine Henrotte and Secretary General Nicholas Newman) went to this hearing and contributed to the debates. In the report below, please see the intervention of Mrs Jacqueline Cotterill, who lives in Spain.


Update from 29 January 2013: Europe in or out and  - Who is interested in you?


The Connexion (  - The English Language French newspaper gave in January a good coverage [pages 7,11, and 14] about Representation for the British citizens  at Westminster and the importance of the debate on whether Britain should opt out of Europe.  It is possibly more unlikely  than not that Britain would opt out – but you never know – it could happen, and then at the very least the 450,000 State pensioners (56,000 in France alone) would possibly be in a  mess – unless some politician at Westminster has their interests at heart! At the end I list all the changes that would come about if no thought at all was given to their welfare.

Cameron’s speech has been given coverage in the French Press and internet forums. I glanced through the 150 comments from French people on the ‘Orange’ ACTU site and found none in favour of the British.  Terms like ‘bon vent’ (=good riddance) were common.  One of my correspondents wrote to me as follows. “I have logged on to the Figaro newspaper and you only have to read the readers' letters to discover that very many anglophobes have crawled out of the woodwork.  ‘De Gaulle was right in 1960 etc’.  Very little sympathy was expressed in favour of Cameron's position and not one reference was made to our help to France in both world wars.  Some people even believed that the UK has received more handouts from the E.U. than it has contributed to the common pot!    Others were under the impression that British residents in general avoided paying income taxes in France.   What shocked me were the attacks on the UK's position on its open market policy within the E.U. as though this was plot devised by the City.   None of the correspondents appeared to realise that France sells more to the UK than the UKto France. “

I myself have never received anything but welcome and kindness from our French  friends and neighbours; it is said that 58% of French People want Britain to remain within the EU..  But anti-British sentiment  could spread amongst the rabble minded French population, just as anti- EU and anti-expatriate sentiment is spread in Britain by The Mail and The Sun and even by certain politicians like Lord Lipsey and Nigel Farage.

It is good to note that following his speeches in the Lords, Lord Lexden is chairing an all-party committee of Representation for the Britons Abroad – but its deliberations could take some time – committees usually do.

The Briton Abroad in Europe could find themselves, by default in a few years time, fighting a very defensive position if they are not prepared.  Be Prepared!

It is very necessary that we have political Representation as soon as possible at Westminster so that our interests are fully aired.

What you can do.....

Write to The Connexion

Write to MPs :- addresses  >

Add your name to :-   This needs 500 signatures a day to get noticed by the Government - 





If Britain left the EU –‘just like that’    without safeguards for the British Citizens in mainland Europe then the following would apply.

These matters would affect most severely the 450,000 British State Pensioners. Some items would affect all British Citizens.

  • All rights accorded to British Citizens under EU laws would cease to apply. The four freedoms of movement of people, goods, services and capital would cease
  • One would no longer be European Citizens – passports would have to be changed.
  • Cartes-de-Séjour (foreign residency cards) would need to issued and these demand a minimum level of income.
  • No British Citizen would the have an automatic right to live in France. Those with little capital (trying to set up businesses?) could be asked to leave.
  • The State pension would not be increased each year. It would be frozen.
  • The European Health Insurance Card would cease, affecting all British Citizens travelling from the UK to the continent, and Pensioners holidaying from one country to another within Europe.
  • Medical subsidy support would cease.  (Few realise that medical support for Pensioners derives from the UK –NHS)
  • One would no longer have the vote for local commune councils, nor the right to be a local councillor.
  • Cross Border trade would be affected. Goods from abroad would revert to the practice before 1973.  The purchase of goods by internet could be subject to import duties. The situation would be the same as for goods imported from theUSA, subject to custom duties.
  • The current relaxation of inheritance laws for European Citizens (although confused) would not operate for the British citizen.
  • Other nasties could arise.  For example, at one time the French imposed taxes on the import of money. 

At the moment the British Expatriate has no political voice.  The British Government must to take notice of the British Citizens in Europe and act in their interest.

 author Brian Cave (




Update from 24 January 2013 pm.: Cameron – Europe  and the British Citizens who live in Europe.


           To Correspondents to Pensioners Debout!
Two political threads weave together –

A/.  Political Representation of the British Citizen abroad at Westminster – Their views must be heard!

B/.  Europe IN/OUT
Lord Lexden gave another well argued speech yesterday in the House of Lords.  Lord Tyler softened his response and made some telling points on the need for constituencies for British Citizens abroad along the lines of the French system.  Lord Lexden is asked to set up a cross-party committee to examine the situation.  So we are only a slightly bit further forward.
Yesterday David Cameron gave his long-awaited speech.  He noted  ''Hundreds of thousands of British people now take for granted their right to work, live or retire in any other EU country." WHY does he not consult them/us? Give us Representation!


Cameron’s speech can be read here.


If Britain devolves from the European Union considerable problems could arise for all the 450,000 Pensioner British Citizens living in Europe outside Britain.

The affect on trade, to and fro, could affect most of the million plus Britons in Europe.

Few of these Britons have a political voice.  If a referendum comes about the voice of the Britons in Europe will not, as things stand, be heard.  THIS is not democracy!


There are ways of getting at the Conservative Party organisation to influence them.

1.  Link onto the following site -

This is a form with boxes to tick (sort of opinion choices) – Near the base is a box for a postcode – In that you can put your country of residence [France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Cyprus etc,] and your local post code – They will not expect that!  Also give your email and tick for replies. It is also possible to ‘tweet’ a comment.

2. Write to an MP! And give them your opinion.  Addresses can be found here.


The opinion amongst the French on Cameron’s speech (as far as I can judge) is one of puzzlement.  They do not understand the complexity of the British political scene where popular opinion is driven by Farage, The Daily Mail, and The Sun.  The attitude appears to be "If you leave we are sorry, but there you go.'"


If Britain left the EU then the following could/would apply.

All rights accorded to British Citizens under EU laws would cease to apply. The four freedoms of movement of people, goods, services and capital would cease

One would no longer be European Citizens – passports would have to be changed.

Carte-de-Séjours would need to issued and these demand a minimum level of income.

No British Citizen would the have an automatic right to live in France. Those with little capital (trying to set up businesses?) could be asked to leave.

All the 450,000 British Pensioners would be most severely affected.

Medical subsidy support would cease.  (The Carte Vitale?)

One would no longer have the vote for local commune councils, nor the right to be a local councillor.

Cross Border trade would be affected. Goods from abroad would revert to the practice before 1973.  The purchase of goods by internet could be taxed and subject to import duties. The situation would be the same as for goods imported from the USA, subject to custom duties.

The current relaxation of inheritance laws for European Citizens (although confused) would not operate for the British citizen.

Other nasties could arise.  For example, at one time the French imposed taxes on the import of money. 

At the moment the British Expatriate has no political voice.  The British Government must to take notice of the British Citizens in Europe and act in their interest.


Visit these links to get more information and to take action….

PETITION for the vote -  This needs 500 signatures a day to succeed!

To send your opinion to MPs at Westminster.


To leave a comment .....

Brian Cave (


******************** END OF UPDATE OF 15 JULY 2013 ********************



Communicated by Brian Cave and Anita Rieu-Sicart on 23 January 2013


Lord Lexden will once more unfurl our banner  for Votes and Representation,  in the House of Lords this afternoon.
after 3.00 p.m UK time 
After Mr. Cameron's speech this morning the banner must fly vigorously.
Over one million British Citizens who live in Europe [450,000 are pensioners] should surely have the chance to voice their views.

Site-Links for Reference.
1.   Parliament TV via the computer - To view the Lords debate this afternoon 23rd January

2. To demand  Representation for British  citizens  via MPs at Westminster (Peter Johnson's petition site) - Important for Europe! It needs 100,000 signatures - more than a thousand every two days.

3.  The Votes for Expats site [Worldwide]

Brian Cave ( & Anita Rieu-Sicart VAR VILLAGE VOICE ,


Communicated by Brian Cave on 21 January 2013


Lord Lexden is to come back fighting on January 23rd
Read and Note:_

Concerning the petition raised by Peter Johnson in Spain:-

This petition was raised quite independently by Mr. Johnson.  I have not previously had contact with him.  Petitions are dangerous because if very few sign the Government then says "You see - the expats are not bothered"
The petition having been laid it is important that we get  a huge number of signatures.
The RETICENCE of British Citizens to ask their friends to sign runs massively against this
Understand the maths -- If everyone who signs got two others to sign then in 17 links the task is achieved.  With 3 extra at each step we only need just over 10 links.
I note that in his writing, Mr. Johnson seeks for a system parallel to the French.  The petition mentions only one MP for expats.  But this could be debated if this petition gets to Westminster.  It would anyway once again bring out the whole issue for public debate.

When I sent out a message on this on 18 January - there were only 20 signatures.  On 21st January - today at 9.20 a.m there are 309.  Not bad but 3000 would be better.
We need 100,000.
Best wishes to all.

Brian Cave,
Le Fourquet,Gourdon, 46300
Tel -0565414269


Communicated by Brian Cave on 17January 2013



Lord Lexden has authorised release of the following on the Conservatives Abroad website.............

Lord Lexden set out in full the reasons why all British citizens living overseas should have the right to vote in British elections when the House of Lords debated his amendments to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill on January 14. He was strongly supported by two fellow Conservative peers, Lord Norton of Louth ( a well-known constitutional expert) and Lord Flight who has lived overseas .  Predictably, a number of misleading—in some cases erroneous—statements  and claims were made in other parts of the House. In his reply to the debate, the Government Minister, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, stated that  the 15-year limit “ remains under consideration within government”. The one positive change that he announced was the removal of the requirement for the overseas voter’s initial registration form to be countersigned by another UK citizen resident abroad. At the end of the debate Lord Lexden said: “ I listened with particular care to the Minister’s speech and noted  one or two encouraging points. Overall, however, I listened with some disappointment”.

With the support of Lord Norton, Lord Lexden proposes to return to the main issues when the Lords moves to the next stage of its consideration of the Bill on January 23.

Brian Cave,
Le Fourquet,Gourdon, 46300
Tel -0565414269

Communicated by Brian Cave on 15 January 2013



The House of Lords debate on Democracy for Expatriates.

January 14th 2013.


It was not a debate in response to the well-crafted presentation by Lord Lexden, but more an exhibition by some of intellectual dishonesty, prejudice and ignorance, which sadly reflected rigidly entrenched opposition along party lines.


On the more positive side, the principle British citizens overseas retaining their democratic right to vote appeared well argued and indeed poorly challenged by those opposed; at issue remained the period over which the right to vote should be extended. The continuing support for this principle was also reflected in the government planning to extend the postal voting cycle from 17 to 25 days and to remove the need for a corroborating signature from a non-family member, British citizen in order to register.



An amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill which would have removed the 15 year limit on the ‘right’ to Representation for expatriate British Citizens was introduced by Lord Lexden.  This presentation was presented with intellectual rigour,

The full Hansard report can be read here Hansard - House of Lords January 14th 2013


What followed was not a debate but observations by various ‘Peers’.  Lord Gardiner, the Government spokesman and Government Whip, ended the exchange (hopefully for good tactical reasons & to avoid a needless defeat having noted its adverse tenor) and requested Lord Lexden to withdraw his amendment.  Which he did!

Here follows some commentary on the speeches by some of the ‘peers’. (The Hansard report has highlighted sentences where reference can be made.)

Lord Lipsey

One cannot pass over his comments about some expatriates seeking ‘cheap gin and tonics.’  Such a remark demonstrates prejudice, and not intellectual honesty.  Such remarks are used to conjure images in the mind of any listener against the expatriate.

His next point about those seeking redress for their frozen pensions  is  saying ‘we cannot have people being represented, because they may not agree with us’.  Lord Debden countered that attitude later on. (see page 9 of the Hansard Report)

Lord Lipsey then raised the views of Professor Blackburn –uttered in 1998 when the World was a very different place!

I wrote a riposte to Blackburn’s views in 2007 – view here…  It was published in ‘French News’ at the time.   It emphasises the non-democratic status of the expatriate Briton inEurope. That very same issue is in sharp focus today.  If Britain pulls out of the Union through a vote based solely on the views of Britons resident in the UK with no cognisance of the effect on Britons in continental Europe, it will be a disaster. It will be a denial of  any democratic honesty  for the British nation.

Lastly Lord Lipsey says ‘you cannot have representation without taxation’.  Does not that also mean the reverse would be true in his view?  Thousands of expatriates pay tax to the British Government, income tax, and tax on investments, as well as property taxes. Even this investment was contested as not being substantial enough compared with those living within the UK!

Lord Tyler,

Again note the introduction of the phrase ‘expats in the Costa del Sol. Another comment introduced solely to give an antipathetic image in the minds of the listener. It is a rhetorical trick.   Lord Tyler continues with comments on Council Tax, VAT etc. It is all nonsense. Ludicrous.  It bears no scrutiny for it has no basis in reality. No expatriate vote would affect such local matters. Indeed, the Electoral Commission website does not even mention British citizens overseas being able to vote in local elections (only UK Parliamentary (general) elections, European Parliamentary elections and referendums in the UK).

Lord Anderson and also Lord Lipsey make a point that few expatriates who could register to vote, actually do so.  The numbers who could in fact do so is not at all clear. Remember that after 15 years one has no chance.  That cut-off point is of itself a deterrent!  I will not re-register this May because my own 15 year limit ends in August.  There will be no election in which I could vote before that date.  Many others will not register for similar reasons.  Lords Lipsey and co. have a point but do they bother to ask why this number is so small?

If as they say  few expatriates want to vote why are they so afraid of granting the vote!  Are they afraid that giving a life-time vote will of itself so increase the desire that they lose power?  It really is nonsensical.

Baroness Hayter,

She displays very little understanding of the life of large numbers of expatriates.

A large number will return to the UK at some time. They all want to return to a Britain which is properly run.  The younger families after 15 or twenty years or more will return, needing good schools and hospitals, and all the other organisations of society.

Many send their children to schools in Britain. They nearly all have relatives in Britain for whom they care. The retired folk on the continent are very likely to return in their final years.  They also have younger relatives working in Britain.  Baroness Hayter is out of touch.

Her second argument is so bizarre it hardly bears repetition but demonstrates prejudice concerning the typical expatriate lifestyle and how an expatriate is more likely to vote.   It is that expatriates given the vote may well give funds to political parties!  Therefore we cannot possibly give them the vote.  This is much the same argument put forward by Lord Lipsey – that is ‘We cannot possibly give the vote to those who might disagree with us!’  In this case ‘They might give funds to other parties!’

If it should interest you the email addresses of the Peers reported here are


Author Brian Cave




Communicated by Brian Cave and relayed by Graham Richards on 28 June 2012:



TERGIVERSATION*** ( pleasesee note at the end)    in the HOUSE of COMMONS

Wednesday 27th June 2012,

British Democracy has again been sold down the river, carried away with the flotsam of  party politics scattered by the Liberal Democrats. (NKN's bold)


During this afternoon the almost empty chamber of the Commons listened to passionate exhortations from the MPs - Geoffrey Clifton Brown, Gary Streeter, Nick de Bois and Heather Wheeler, explaining why the expatriate citizen should have the right to vote for Life. Mr Clifton Brown had tabled a clause last week which would give all Britons Abroad a vote (representation) for LIFE.

An extract from a letter by a campaign supporter  (Margaret Hales) was read by Nick de Bois. 

Yet David Heath, Deputy Leader and Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome persuaded  Mr Clifton Brown to withdraw his clause.  This was his reasoning:-

what are registration officers to do to identify all those abroad who might be qualified to vote? Putting an onus on them similar to the responsibility we are placing on them in this Bill to seek out everyone who could possibly be qualified to vote would provide an insuperable problem for them if applied to overseas electors. I think that the hon. Member for The Cotswolds would probably acknowledge that that is the case.  Then very shortly after he said….

I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his new clause. He has made some very important points and I undertake that the Government will give them serious consideration. We will see whether there are proposals that we might wish to bring forward in due course to address some of his points.

So many ifs and buts… So for the foreseeable future, the British Citizen Abroad will still not be represented after 15 years.  I myself will never again have a representative MP, for next year I am disenfranchised.  

Was it the Liberal Democrats who not openly, but surreptitiously in the tearooms of Westminster, pulled the rug from under the foundation for this campaign that we and so many other expatriates have tried so hard to build.  The Citizens abroad have been thrown aside like some unwanted rubbish to float away. 

Here are the views of Nick Clegg – as expressed by his assistant Rory Belcher.


“Nick appreciates that there are some British expatriates who have lived abroad for over 15 years and who want to vote in British elections. However, as you may know, Nick supports the existing legislation on this issue, including the removal of the right to vote after 15 years of living abroad. If a Briton has settled in another country, it is intuitive that they would know about and be directly affected by the issues of that country. If they want to become politically active, then they should register to vote in  the country they have settled in.”

Did Mr. Clegg put pressure on Mr Heath?   It is a mystery why Mr. Clifton-Brown changed his mind.  Internal politics?  “We mustn’t  expose cracks in the coalition must we?”

    Is Nick Clegg a Leader? Is Nick Clegg a Statesman?  I do not think so. 

Was there not here a glorious opportunity to stand up for British Citizens – The Citizens who are at the cutting edge of British Influence in the World. – The Citizens who spread the spirit of Britain. An opportunity for Britain to stand tall amongst the Nations.

   Is any Britain Abroad proud of this performance in Parliament?  I do not think so.

Hope always remains.   This Bill has to go before the Lords – once again we must express our concerns and get the peers on our side.

There is no good reason for the Clause to have been withdrawn.  There is absolutely no reason why the current process of registration which I have performed every year should not in some form continue.  There are no increased administrative difficulties. At the next election in 2015 let us all remember the role of the Liberal Democrats in this matter.  Tell your children, your parents, your aunts and cousins.  Tell your friends.  Tell all in Britain what the Liberal Democrats have done this day. 

‘The Liberal Democrats are opposed to Life-time Democracy for British Citizens.’



Withdrawal statement by Mr Geoffrey Clifton-Brown


May I suggest to the Deputy Leader of the House and to the Committee a practical way of dealing with the issue? The hon. Gentleman should table an amendment on Report or an amendment should be tabled in another place to take powers to extend but not reduce the 15-year period at a time when the Government are satisfied that the registration process is robust and maintains the integrity of the electoral register. He would be able to do that in tandem with the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, his hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper), who told the House last week that he would look at the measures for the registration process that I suggested to him—namely, using the passport as an identity document, abolishing the annual requirement to register, perhaps introducing a permanent opt-in for people who had registered validly once, and the possibility of using British embassies so that people could register and, even better, vote there. The Cabinet Office Minister undertook to look carefully at those measures, which could be introduced under the Bill and under the existing legislation and secondary legislation. I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the House table an amendment to take a power to extend the 15 years when the Government are satisfied that those measures are in place. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw my new clause.

Note – There is no mention of Life-time Democratic Representation here!   

Removal of the `15 year limit’ is not mentioned. Only extension!

Mr.Clifton Brown is intelligent and passionate.  Why did he change his mind?

What conspiracies are constructed over the coffee cups in Westminster?


*** ‘tergiversation!’***  = turning one’s back on a previously held convictions!!

We must fight again in the House of Lords. 


Author Brian Cave

Brian Cave

00 33 (0) 565 414269







Communicated by Brian Cave and relayed by Graham Richards on 20 June 2012:



The Electoral Registration Bill  under debate now
Vitally important for all Expatriate Britons. This matter is truly as important as 'VOTES for Women!'  
Please act - see the end of this message - Democratic Future for British Citizens Abroad  is at stake. I do not exaggerate.


Monday 18th June - Mr. Clifton-Brown MP  introduced an amendment to give all expatriates voting rights for LIFE.
The inclusion of this amendment in the Bill was put to the vote and carried without dissent.  Sounds good? --- hmmmm.



I consulted with Sir Roger Gale MP for North Thanet who is a great supporter of Votes for Life - My exchange was as follows:-----

From me.. 

It would seem that the amendment below (it was included in the mail) was passed nem-con yesterday.
I assume that this means it is thereby written into the draft bill - Electoral Registration and Administration Bill.
Is this likely to be further debated in the Commons?
     Before being passed onto the Lords?

From Sir Roger (abridged)..Sadly not: this amendment(of which I am also a sponsor) is likely to come up when the bill is debated again next Wednesday.


 Clegg remains opposed to change and Mark Harper will, of course, have to act on his instructions.  We intend to try to reach the Prime Minister prior to the vote to see if he will reconsider the government`s position. Otherwise, I fear, the amendment is likely to be defeated.

NOTE _ Wednesday 27th  is noted by Sir Roger Gale as the next day for debate - The Parliament website gives Monday 25th - Which I suspect is the correct date.


CLARIFICATION ON 20 JUNE: The next date for the debate in the Commons is indeed Monday 25th and the FINAL day is Wenesday 27th and that would seem to be when the real voting takes place.




Note well the power that Nick Clegg has in this matter.   On him hangs the Future of British Democracy.  But he is against Democracy for the British Citizen abroad.


We must try to educate and change this thinking.  
I attach the whole transcript verbatim from Hansard
of the debate on this amendment (.doc or .pdf ) .   I have coloured parts of it which particularly caught my attention. I noted the intervention from the Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson - favourable!   
Please write to one or more Lib Dem MPs - if you have lived in a constituency which has a Lib Dem MP it is easier.  Others tend to reply excusing themselves as they are not your MP! [A version of catch 22!] Try anyway.
To find Lib Dem MPs search at--
From the green search option box - on the left, choose 'party' and on the right, 'Liberal Democrat'  then 'go'
Write -------
The Electoral Registration Bill is now before Parliament.  It is vitally important for Democracy for all British Citizens that the clause introduced by Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown [clause 1(3) - abolishing the time limit for overseas voters] becomes law within this Bill.  Your influence will count.  If the Liberal Democrats vote against this clause then British Democracy will falter and the Liberal Democrats will ever after need to hold their heads in shame.  It is as important as was historically the Suffragettes cause in the 1920s.  
This matter is of National importance  and transcends constituency politics and party politics.

Or write/add your own thoughts!

Please do help -  Is it too much to ask?  After Monday/Wednesday perhaps the opportunity will not come again for another 20 years...    Brian Cave


Brian Cave
le Fourquet, Gourdon, 46300, France

Tel-    ++33(0)565 41 42 69
web site:-









during the week 18-22 June 2012





Reminder – action – Every Citizen must think.

The MPs are debating the Electoral Registration Bill which is probably the only hope of getting a Vote for Britons Abroad for Life.  
If we do not push now then all might well be lost.



What can you do?  - Choose one or preferably more Lib-Dem MPs from the listing of all MPs and write something as below and please attach the accompanying letter from a Lib-Dem activist (copied with permission).  You can simply copy all, change the intro- and add your name.   I fear individual emails are necessary -  A huge task and that is why your help is sought – and diverse emails from  various directions are even more valuable.  It doesn't matter if some MPs get it more than once.   Thanks for your help!     
Brian Cave .[]
Graham Richards []

If  you can please reply saying to which Lib Dem MPs you have mailed.


There are 57 Lib-Dem MPs and they can be easily selected from the above listing.


Dear XXXX,


The Third reading – Committee Stage - of The Electoral Registration Bill is being debated.

With your  help a clause can be inserted to give ‘Vote-for-Life’ to all British Citizens Abroad.  Please support  us.  I know that some Lib-Dems in Westminster – Messrs Rogerson MP for North Cornwall and  Peers  Lords Tyler and Jones (of Cheltenham) have expressed concern and support.  Nick Clegg has not so far supported us.  
Read the letter below from a British Citizen Abroad who was a Lib-Dem activist in Britain.   We need your help.  



From: Rodney Sabine 23300 Vareilles, France


Nick Clegg MP

Leader, Liberal Democrats


Dear Mr Clegg,


I write as a former Parliamentary Agent to a Lib Dem MP,, former Lib Dem Council Leader of a District Council, former Constituency Chair, former regional Chair,and a former member of the Party’s Executive. I have also recently been asked to be Acting Chair of Liberal Democrats France, in an attempt to make Lib Dems Abroad, a Brussels based group, more relevant to other parts of the world.


I am writing about a letter one of your assistants wrote to Brian Cave on your behalf regarding voting rights for expatriates. I’m not sure which was worse – the ignorance displayed in the letter, or the lack of political acumen displayed by its attitude.


This person wrote


“Nick appreciates that there are some British expatriates who have lived abroad for over 15 years and who want to vote in British elections. However, as you may know, Nick supports the existing legislation on this issue, including the removal of the right to vote after 15 years of living abroad. If a Briton has settled in another country, it is intuitive that they would know about and be directly affected by the issues of that country. If they want to become politically active, then they should register to vote in the country they have settled in.”


First of all let us deal with the facts. There are hundreds and thousands of Britons all over the world. Many of them are working for British companies and helping the British Economy. If your assistant had bothered to read the report  ‘Global Brit: Making the most of the British Diaspora’, published by the Institute of Public Policy Research in 2010 he would have seen that there exists a great opportunity for the UK Government to use these people as a positive force, rather than penalise them in so many ways.


I live in France. I am British. As a European citizen I am free to live anywhere in the European Community. But I pay tax in the UK, not in France, because like all teacher, civil service, police, military and other public service pensioners I am compelled to pay tax in the UK under the iniquitous Double Taxation Agreement, a fact of which your assistant is clearly unaware. I pay far more tax than I would if I paid French Tax, because the French have this quaint idea that poor people should pay less tax and at a lower rate than rich people, unlike your government, who think pensioners should pay more tax. I was directly affected by the cuts in tax coding brought in by the last Budget, yet according to this person I have no right to elect the government that imposes these cuts. Is that fair?


I can, in fact, vote in France, but only in commune elections and European Elections. I cannot take part in cantonal or parliamentary or presidential elections because I am not French. To become French I would need to pass a test in language and French History that frankly is now beyond me. And why should I – I’m not French. I don’t want to be. I am a British Citizen who happens to live in a different part of Europe.


If I was a French citizen, and lived in the UK, and incidentally the number of French Citizens in the UK is the about the same as the number of English citizens in France, I would have full voting rights in France. I would be able to vote for one of the number of parliamentary deputies allocated to expatriates. My presidential candidates would visit the UK to woo my votes. Why do you think the French do this – could it be connected with the 80% turnout in the first round of the Presidential Election campaign this year?


Voters vote, Mr Clegg. Voters without a vote don’t vote. By agreeing to this arbitrary cut off at 15 years you are depriving me of my right to vote. However, your Government will doubtless continue to accept the tax that I am forced to pay you. The slogan ‘No taxation without representation’ springs to mind.


Politically, why has the Party set up ‘Lib Dems Abroad?’ What’s the point, if this is your view? If this is really your view and you think I’m going to help organise Lib Dems inFrance you are seriously mistaken. How can I say to people ‘Join the Party that supports taking away your vote?’


I really hope that you have let this assistant dash off a reply without thinking about it. Politically it makes no sense. Brian Cave is a very significant voice in the expat community and like me he deserves an answer from you that has been thought through both politically and economically.


I haven’t bothered to go into all the other unfair ways your Government behaves towards expatriates, often in defiance of European Court rulings, because I believe that the voting issue is at the heart of the problem. I have no idea if the Party has a policy on expatriate voting – I know we have one on goldfish – but once the Party wakes up to the potential of the expatriate vote and the possibilities it creates, I believe you and hopefully the Party will change your mind. Spanish Lib Dems Abroad are already campaigning on this – see  Are you aware of this?



Yours sincerely, Rodney Sabine



a descendent of EMMELINE PANKHURST

(distributed with her permission):



The stunning remarkable letter below has been copied to me (via Graham Richards) and with the writer's permission I forward it.
This letter oozes with true British spirit. May many more Britons Abroad follow her example.   
Brian Cave 

Dear Mr Clegg


Stirred by the wonderful scenes of the support for the Queen on her Jubilee, I have put pen to paper (so to speak) as a British citizen proud of my Queen and Country in order to write to you about some apparently odd views you have about citizenship. You will of course know that the Committee Stage of the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill begins on Monday next (18 June) and there will be an opportunity to legislate on this matter in Parliament shortly- a great opportunity to put a wrong right.


I understand that earlier this year your assistant Roy Belcher wrote


“Nick appreciates that there are some British expatriates who have lived abroad for over 15 years and who want to vote in British elections. However, as you may know, Nick supports the existing legislation on this issue, including the removal of the right to vote after 15 years of living abroad. If a Briton has settled in another country, it is intuitive that they would know about and be directly affected by the issues of that country. If they want to become politically active, then they should register to vote in the country they have settled in.”


I am amazed that you do not know that what you suggest is impossible.


It especially saddens and greatly disappoints me that, as a man who has personal experience through your wife of nationality and citizenship, you should get this so wrong. A national from within the EU can vote in local elections (and indeed is encouraged by many countries to participate in this way in the country in which they are now living). But it is impossible to gain the right to vote in regional (most important in most of Europe) and national elections unless you change your citizenship to that of your country of residence and become French or Bulgarian or Saudi or Argentinian! We, as British citizens, can therefore only vote at local level and after being abroad for 15 years are disenfranchised by Britain.


I also seriously hope it was a ‘slip of the pen’ of your assistant (‘If they want to become more politically active’) to suggest that voting, a vital part of the exercise of democracy, is the same as being politically active.


Now of course if you think that ‘Briton[s] settled in a different country’ are only the rich Tory toffs retiring to their sunbeds on the Caribbean or the Costa del Sol then I can perhaps understand your derision. But given that the majority of Britons living abroad are working (many of them for Britain and for British companies) and that they of course move from country to country following their employment, your statement looks increasingly inappropriate.


For centuries the Brits have lived overseas, retaining their loyalty to their Queen and country even when the quickest means of travel was by steamship. In today’s global world, and with communications as they are, families spread across the world are able to- and do- keep in touch on a constant basis. The difficulties in social services for Granny, the challenges for grandchildren sitting their GCSEs, increasing tax bills … . are all familiar to those living abroad but talking to their loved ones on a daily basis on, for example, Skype. Once a Brit, always a Brit. Except, it seems, when it comes to democracy.


I am immensely proud that one of my ancestors was Emmeline Pankhurst. One hundred years ago she struggled through arrest, imprisonment, force-feeding and the derision of the then Liberal government finally to gain universal suffrage. Had she been alive today she would have supported the help given to free Libya, she would have been behind William Hague in his negotiations to secure freedom in Syria and his support of Aung San Suu Kyi. But she could never ever have dreamed that her relative would be writing to you today to remind you, the British Deputy Prime Minister, that universal suffrage is the ultimate goal of every democracy and that the government is there to serve its citizens and not to disenfranchise them.


I ask you to look again at the issues. Not with a closed mind but mindful of the 6.5 million Brits across the world who had hoped for so much from your coalition government in its drive to bring democracy closer to the people- not take it away.


Yours in hope


Margaret Hales


Mrs Margaret Hales MBE

Alicante, Spain





Please see the large and growing number of links to the media outlets which have published supporting press articles & radio interviews on votes for Britons abroad, at



Listen to Brian Cave on BBC 4's "Today" programme

recorded on Tuesday 27 December 2011

or on the BBC Radio 4 site


Watch Brian Cave's interview or listen to it 


recorded on Monday 24 October 2011.


NEWS: Please see the Press Release of the 11th March 2010

"Court Challenge Against Voting Law That Disenfranchises Britons Abroad"


PETITION: Please see and sign the petition at

Votes for Britons campaign 


and the article in the Telegraph of 16 August 2011 by Anita Rieu-Sicart, editor of the Var Village Voice, at


The comments on the petition site are often illuminating.







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