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BREXIT

Europe & You: Boris our ‘best chance to stop Brexit’, EU Green Cards and cash for residency appointments

Our weekly Europe & You newsletter rounds up the most relevant stories from around our countries related to Brexit, the EU and other areas of interest. Here's the latest edition featuring Boris Johnson, an EU Green Card scheme, cash for residency appointments and many other stories.

Europe & You: Boris our 'best chance to stop Brexit', EU Green Cards and cash for residency appointments
Photo: AFP

Hi to all our readers,

Do you have any preferences on who becomes the next leader of the Conservative Party?

Many of the contenders are openly campaigning for a no-deal Brexit, perhaps unsurprising given that a poll of Tory members – who get to vote on who becomes the next PM – revealed a majority back leaving the EU with no deal.

What about Boris Johnson for PM? While the idea that BoJo could be the next leader of the country might make you wince – he said we are leaving the EU on October 31st “with or without a deal” – this opinion article might make you change your mind.

AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that he fully accepted his “bad guy” role in insisting on a shorter extension to Britain's tortuous exit from the EU, while insisting that October 31st is the “final, final deadline.” Here's what he had to say.

How would the idea of a European Green Card sound to you? It would allow you to keep the existing rights you have as an EU citizen, not least freedom of movement, which we look set to lose if Brexit goes through.

The campaign to bring in an EU Green Card won a timely boost this week as the campaign group behind it, the New Europeans picked up a prestigious European award.

Here's some more information about the EU green card scheme.

AFP

While Brexit limbo goes on, Brits around Europe are still taking steps to try to secure residency permits which they hope will make all the post-Brexit paperwork process a lot easier.

But in France their efforts are being hampered by authorities, understandably, not processing applications until they know what's happening in the UK and also by the long waiting times to get an appointment at the prefecture.

So this story about a black market in appointments for residency permits in certain parts of France will no doubt interest readers.

Here are a selection of other stories from around Europe that will interest you.

SpainThe villages in Alicante where there are zero British residents

France: The 39 maps you need to understand south-west France

Germany: Why Germany could soon have its first 'Green' Chancellor

There was a crucial election in Denmark this week which threw up a few surprises that could be a sign of the direction Europe is heading in, not least on the subject of immigration which resulted in a disastrous showing for the far-right populists. The article below contains everything you need to know.

Denmark: What we learned: Seven key takeaways from the Danish election

Sweden: What you love most about life in Sweden

Italy: Quiz – How well do you know your Italian geography?

A story from Switzerland will interest all those British citizens living around Europe who are unable to vote in their adopted country. Perhaps this idea to give foreigners a political voice could take off around Europe?

And just to round things off Theresa May finally stepped down as Conservative party leader on Friday to allow the race to replace her to officially begin. Some may have sympathy for her, others not so much, but this photo kind of sums her term as Tory party leader.

AFP

Remember, if you want to follow The Local more closely you can download our phone Apps from the Apple or Play store for both Android and Apple phones.

Thanks for reading and for your support.

Ben McPartland
[email protected]

Managing Editor, The Local Europe

Member comments

  1. It is interesting to compare Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron
    Johnson was born to a rich family and went to Eaton, an elite expensive public=private school. From there he went to Oxford following the standard route for senior ministers and prime ministers in the UK
    In contrast Macron was born to a wealthy family and went to an expensive private school. From there he went to the elite École Nationale d’Administration the standard route for senior ministers and presidents of France.
    There are great differences in their personalities. Johnson is often regarded as having a good sense of humour. At the moment he is guarded by minders to protect him from his one-liner gaffs.
    Macron is not noted for his sense of humour. He is famous for his ability for talking for hours on any subject without notes. How many are still awake at the end of this monologue is not recorded.
    Both of them have shot themselves in the foot which may lead to their ultimate political deaths. Johnson was the major force in the leave Brexit vote. Macron after supporting his rich friends alienated forgotten France resulting in the yellow vests protest.
    Politics is a dirty business.

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BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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