British nationals living in the Netherlands are being urged to sign up to vote in the next UK general election, now that new legislation has made it possible to do so.
From Tuesday, British nationals abroad will be able to vote in national but not Scottish or local elections no matter how long they have lived overseas. The old cut-off point was 15 years.
Some 45,000 first generation British nationals currently live in the Netherlands and an estimated 3.4 million British nationals living abroad have lost their right to vote in the UK. In 2016, some 60% of UK citizens living in the EU had no vote in the UK referendum that led to Brexit.
The new legislation comes into effect on January 16. “This has been a long time coming and there will be a general election later this year so don’t put it off.” campaign group British in Europe said.
“Voting is a basic citizenship right and British citizens who move abroad don’t have that many rights, so that’s one reason to vote,” the campaign group said. “But, if you need more reasons, perhaps you have elderly parents who need access to good health and social care in the UK?
“Or you are in a relationship with a non-British citizen and you may find it hard to meet the minimum income requirement and other immigration costs and conditions if you want to move back to the UK with them?”
The British government is planning to raise the minimum income requirement to bring a partner to the UK to £38,700, or nearly €45,000.
British in Europe is also recommending potential voters organise a proxy in the UK to avoid their ballot paper being lost in the post.
Over 1,000 voting papers sent to The Hague by Dutch expats abroad failed to make it in time to be counted in the November 2023 general election.
British nationals have also lost their right to vote in the European elections in the Netherlands, which will be held in early June this year.
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