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Voting Rights: British Nationals Abroad

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 25th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the total number of UK citizens resident outside the UK (1) who are eligible to vote in UK parliamentary elections under the present rule which bars British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting, and (2) who would be eligible following the extension of the right to vote to all adult UK citizens resident abroad.

Photo of Lord True Lord True Chair, Intergenerational Fairness and Provision Committee

Approximately 1.4 million British citizens living overseas have been registered to vote in the UK in the past 15 years and are therefore eligible to register to vote in UK parliamentary elections as overseas electors.

There are no official statistics on the number of adult British citizens resident abroad. We estimate, however, that there are a total of 4.9 million British citizens overseas who have previously lived in the UK and are of voting age.

The Government is considering the appropriate legislative vehicle to deliver votes for life, which is a manifesto commitment, and we will make an announcement on our intentions in due course.

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