Campaigning to restore the lifelong right to vote for all UK citizens overseas

Prior to 1985, British citizens living overseas did not have the right to vote. The Representation of the People Act 1985 enabled overseas citizens to vote in the constituency where they had previously lived, but only for a period of five years. That was extended to twenty years in 1989 but reduced to fifteen years in 2000, a limit which still applies today.

It is estimated that around one million Britons living overseas have been denied the right to vote due to the fifteen year rule. 

Many other democracies allow their overseas citizens Votes for Life, something about which Bremain in Spain members feel very strongly. Many were disenfranchised during the EU referendum vote which created a significant impact and uncertainty on their daily lives in their adopted country. Many UK citizens in Europe moved abroad for many different reasons but with the understanding that they could due to Freedom of Movement. Many UK citizens overseas still pay taxes, have family and/or close connections to the UK and care deeply about the UK national interest.

Political Background

The three main political parties in the UK have differing opinions on Votes for Life, with the Labour Party maintaining silence on the subject in the 2017 election.

The Liberal Democrats 2017 manifesto declared that  it will “enable all UK citizens living abroad to vote for MPs in separate overseas constituencies and to participate in UK referendums”. 

In the 2017 General Elections, the Conservative  party manifesto included the following:

“Our democratic institutions may be ancient but should not be neglected. We will continue to modernise and improve our electoral registration process, making it as accessible as possible so that every voice counts. We will legislate for votes for life for British overseas electors.” (Conservative Party manifesto, Forward Together, May 2017, p.42).

It was also included in the 2010 and 2015 manifestos.

To date, this has not been delivered but we now have the second reading of a bill to introduce Votes for Life on Feb 23 2018 which was introduced by Glynn Davies MP.


See Harry Shindler MBE’s letter to all fellow Brits abroad HERE


Update Nov 3 2018 

We have just received a phone call from the wonderful Harry Shindler confirming he now has a date for his case to be heard at the European Court of Justice – 26th November 2018.
“Shindler vs. Council” questions the European Union decision to open Brexit negotiations when so many Brits in the EU were unfairly deprived of their right to vote in the referendum.
If successful, Brexit could be stopped! We can’t think of anyone more deserving of winning that prize than Harry!
Keeping everything crossed!

You can read more about the case here – Action for Expat Votes



We have prepared a template letter for you to write or email your MP. Please remember to include the postcode or address in your previous UK constituency so that the MP can verify your eligibility to communicate with them. There are also downloadable memes which you can tweet or share on social media. Please ‘Like’ our Campaign Facebook Page to keep up with the latest news.

Harry emailed us today to send the following message to supporters of the Votes for Life campaign:

Harry Shindler MBE

Campaign Tool Kit


MEMES to download. See below or visit our our memes page. Select to enlarge. Right click and/or ‘Save As’ the jpg files to your device.
They are copyright free and intended for sharing!

TEMPLATE LETTER for you to write or email your MP. Select the following LINK HERE and download the Word document which you can tailor to your own requirements. Please remember to include the postcode or address in your previous UK constituency so that the MP can verify your eligibility to communicate with them.

A simple way to email your MP is through Write to Them – Making it easy to write to the politicians who represent you – even if you don’t know who they are. You can find the website HERE –

Give all British citizens living abroad the right to vote and dedicated MPs
About 1 million British citizens living abroad do not have the right to vote due to their overseas residency exceeding 15 years. They therefore lack representation in Parliament. And, British Citizens living abroad for under 15 years may only vote in a constituency they no longer live in…. More details


Please ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ the Votes for Life Facebook page HERE – @votesforlife2018
You can also use the hashtag #votesforlife on Twitter