Millions of British expats finally win “vote for life” following tireless campaign by Second World War veteran

Many may be saying “it’s a bit late”, but the millions Britons who have settled overseas permanently are finally to be given a “vote for life” in British general elections.

The news was confirmed this (Friday) afternoon by Britain’s Minister for the Constitution Chris Skidmore, though it was leaked by the UK’s Times two weeks ago – and largely credited to the relentless efforts by 95-year-old campaigner Harry Shindler.

The way ahead now is for the plans to be “ratified” by both British houses of parliament ahead of the next general election in 2020.

As second world war veteran Shindler told the Times in September, the news “make us a complete democracy”.

Before, any Briton leaving the UK has seen his or her right to vote in national elections removed after 15 years.

But as Shindler points out the bill that will finally emancipate as many as five million Britons living abroad “took more time planning than the D-Day invasion” – and he really doesn’t know ‘where he’ll be in 2020’ anyway.

Elsewhere, social media commentary is equally muted.

“Unfortunately it is too late”, wrote André Escórcio Soares, a lecturer at Coventry University, echoing the disappointment of millions in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

But as others agree, at least the British government’s pledge looks like “redressing the democratic deficit for the future”.

In the words of Chris Skidmore, he is “delighted” to announce the government’s commitment to introduce votes for life” as he said: “British citizens living abroad retain strong links with the United Kingdom: they may have family here, and indeed they may plan to return here in the future. Equally, there are many British citizens abroad who have fought for our country, dedicating their lives to our armed services. Their stake in our country must be respected. This Government will not deny them the opportunity to have their say in the way their country is governed”.

For a complete look at the Cabinet office gold master policy statement, click here