I was pleasantly surprised that my letter sent to Rebecca Pow received a response within a few hours – which also outlines her reasons for not having declared whether she is “in” or “out” at this point in time.
Dear Mr Bailey,
Thank you for contacting me about the franchise for the nearing referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
May I, first, thank you for your kind words concerning my operation. Thankfully, I shall be returning to Westminster next week.
To address your main concerns. I fully appreciate the frustrations you have on the current franchise rules in the UK. Please be assured the Government is still committed to scrapping the 15-year time limit on UK nationals resident overseas voting. However, the Government does not believe that the EU Referendum Bill to be the correct Bill through which to bring about these changes.
Unfortunately, this does mean that only British nationals that have been resident abroad for fewer than 15 years will be able to vote in the EU referendum.
I understand that this not the answer you hoped for but as I say please be assured that the issues surrounding the current franchise rules are at the forefront of the Government plans.
Lastly, I agree on the momentous nature of this decision, and is why I will not declare whether I am “in” or “out” until I have exhausted all the material on the pros and cons of each argument. I know that this is about the future of the United Kingdom, a truly historical decision.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me and please do not hesitate to do so again in the future.