In response to my post on Vienna Expats’ facebook page about the the 2nd reading of the Private Members Bill on allowing all UK citizens in the EU to vote, regardless of how long they have been outside the UK, there was a comment from another Brit in Vienna, Christian Cummins, with a link to a letter he had submitted to the Guardian – it is worth a read.
His case is very similar to mine – although to my knowledge we’ve never met (Facebook tells us we have mutual acquaintances) and there are a couple of very nicely put comments – which I have chosen to quote as I can also identify with them.
The UK decided to be part of the EU and, like hundreds of thousands of other UK citizens, I took the opportunity that that decision offered to live and work elsewhere in the EU as soon as I finished studying. As a classic economic migrant, I found better job opportunities for my specific skills in a different part of the bloc, in my case Austria. We Brits in Europe surely understand as much as any other UK citizen what EU membership means.
Having experienced some ups and downs along the way to finding my current job, which has vindicated my decision many years ago to come to Austria, this is exactly why expats need to be able to vote in the referendum regardless of how long they have lived outside the UK.
We understand the complexities of the relationship and have a greater stake than any other British citizen in the outcome.
This hits the nail so well on the head – and is exactly what acted as my clarion call to promote “Remaining” in the EU.
If it was a question of deciding what should happen only inside the UK – a referendum, for example, on wind power – then maybe you could argue that a 15-year time barrier would make sense.
Again I am with him – I am no longer in any position to pass a judgement of local politics in Somerset – and for local elections I vote in Austria (council level – as a non-Austrian I cannot vote in the Mayoral election here in Vienna, or elections for the Nationalrat).
Downing Street says: “No Briton under the age of 58 has had their say on the UK’s membership of the European Union.” I’m 35. Cameron must give me and fellow Brits living in other parts of the EU a say in our own future. Anything else would be an absolute mockery of democracy.
It is quite a scary fact that the last generation to have voted in an referendum on membership (then of the Common Market) are now approaching 60. At this rate I might next have an opportunity aged 78 – by which stage I will have been in Austria for 55 years.