Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To all British expatriates everywhere!

To the British expatriate anywhere in the World.
Why you should  have ‘Representation’ and thereby the Vote at Westminster!
First - If you live within the EU - It matters most to you.
The average expatriate Briton in Europe does not understand that their ability to live in Europe depends on the UK Government. Especially is this so for all the ones who are retired -54000 in France [about 430,000 in the EU].  But all, young and old*, can only have the right to live here if the European Union holds together.  It is very necessary indeed that the UK Government acknowledges its responsibility towards the Britons in Europe.  It is just as necessary that  the Briton in Europe ensures that the UK Government exercises its responsibility in their interest.  This can only be achieved if they have representation in Parliament. This is democracy.  This message is quite vital for the political health of the EU enterprise.
If European Union were to collapse, or the UK withdraw from the EU as so many in the UK would foolishly wish, then many of us would be in an uncertain condition.

*e.g. health cost support for pensioners could collapse if the EU fails.
 For every expatriate.
Representation means having an MP who cares for you and who speaks for you in Parliament and can intervene for you (i.e. express your concerns) with the bureaucrats in Whitehall or elsewhere.
1. The pride of British Solidarity.   This is not the most obvious reason.  But it is the most fundamental.   If you are not proud of being British then you should ask yourself whether you should  change your citizenship.  Are you not proud of the once existing British standards of  fair play, and honesty, for which the British culture used to be so respected across the globe.
Also, in reverse, one asks the British Parliamentarians – ‘Are you not proud of the work of British expatriates throughout the world? Are they not citizens whose work and spirit should be respected?’
All expatriates were shocked by the decline of public order in Britain which we witnessed in the summer of 2011. This decline we have witnessed long before we became resident abroad and if we could, no doubt many of us would give some voice to its correction.
We all have an interest in uniting to maintain a standing of honour in British culture.

2. The
UK Government represents the expatriate – even if the expatriate is unaware of it.
  It represents us in treaties and relationships with our host countries   But- the UK bureaucracy is largely unaware of our needs. It has no means of listening to us! It has no ears!
These needs range from matters of local social support - to government taxation and conflicts or confusion between UK and host country regulations - e.g. employment regulations for professionals.  Without some means of feedback from expatriates the Whitehall machine can and does just plough on without understanding of the consequences for the individual. Its attitude therefore evolves to protecting the perceived Government's position and not protecting the British expatriates' position. The British Citizen abroad is a citizen ignored.

Pensions – Those of teachers, Fire Service (and a lot more) are assumed to be ‘government’ pensions in France but ‘non-government pensions’ in Greece.  NHS pensions are  ‘non-government’ pensions in France but ‘government’ pensions in Germany.  These arbitrary decisions affect the taxation costs of  thousands to the cost of thousands of £s. 
The State retirement pension is frozen for many  expatriates in many countries but not all.  Thus if you live in San Marino it is frozen, but not so in Florence.  It is frozen in Monaco, but not in Nice. It is frozen in Niagara Falls (Canada)  but not in Niagara Falls (USA).
Health – The UK makes agreements with the EU and its constituent countries (where 1.5 million British citizens live) on health payments for pensioners but the expatriate pensioners have no voice on such agreements in their name.
Border Controls.  The UK makes whatever changes it chooses, without any ear as to how this may affect the expatriate.
Banking and Finance.  Regulations which affect how and where the expatriate can change or use financial systems within the UK never take cognisance of the impact on the expatriate.
Interests in the UK.- Large numbers of expatriates have financial interests, and many property interests in the UK.  It is plainly obvious that they have an interest in the management of the country!
 The Government could introduce old-age benefits limited to 'residents' . This is the case already with the ridiculous Winter Fuel Payment.  If it wasn't for actions by some people it would not be paid to any expatriate.  We have to thank the EU for ensuring a partial fix.  But there are some very elderly expatriates who well have need for this extra money [The WFP is a payment which by reducing the public purse, reduces the scale of the State Retirement pension].  The Whitehall bureaucrat is unaware that there are expatriates in financial difficulties through no fault of their own and which is exacerbated by the lack of concern by the British Government.

3.  Expatriates in difficulty.   Residents in the
UK can visit or write to their MP if some particular issue is important to them.  Expatriates may well have issues with a UK bank, the UK tax office, local authority,  payment of pensions or social care payments or a problem relating to a near relative – perhaps a child at a school in the UK or a relative in nursing care.  You may yourself on a visit to the UK run into some difficulty.
It is the law that you cannot contact an Ombudsman  in relation to a Government body or the NHS except through a Member of Parliament.
If you have no MP then it is impossible to do this!

4. Finally  The principle of Democracy - that constant vigilance supports freedom. 
Does not the concept of ‘citizenship’  mean a binding relationship between the governing body and the people?*- Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says 'nationality is the legal bond between a person and a State'. This is included in Harry Shindler's application to the ECHR on this subject.  .... see note below  
We may be in title ‘subjects of the Queen’  but times have changed and I fear we have moved into a form of dictatorship of Government which  has chosen to prevent any voice of  millions of its citizens being heard.  They do not speak because they know that no one is listening.
 Many British expatriates feel ALIENATED from the governance of their mother country because of the indifferent attitude of the British Government. To establish a permanent vote would be a first step to redressing this alienation.
If the expatriate does not have a democratic voice, the Government is free to take any action which it distantly believes to be in its interest, that is not necessarily in the interest of the expatriate citizen.
It is in your interest to support the democratic ideal. (click) 

* Harry Shindler [90 years old -resident in Italy since 1982, holder of the Italy Star (World War II, Anzio beach-head), president of the association of British expatriates in Italy. ]
Harry has applied to the European Court of Human Rights against the UK's refusal to grant him representation at Westminster. 



  1. Many thanks for this - wide-ranging beyond just pensions, and some solid arguments.

    See also the current petition in favour of votes for expatriate Britons at

    Nicholas Newman

  2. I tried writing to the office responsible for the WFA, explaining in Brittany we have heavy snow and winters can be as low as -11. Fell on deaf ears, I also stated dependencies of France are not in Europe, but as you say this fell on deaf ears. I live alone, on a small pension, topped up by an even smaller Teacher's pension. I came over here because I would have had to sell my house in UK after redundancy and a year trying to find another job, I decided to come to Brittany. I love it here, and would never go back to UK . I won't tell you what I think of IDS, You probably know already, without my WFA I have no idea how I will get through the winter, I have a wood burner, live moderately, no electric, gaz or oil heating. Hope we can get it back.