UK Spain expat election links

This blog post is off the usual topics of the Equusasinus blog and concerns the June 8th 2017 General Election.  For UK citizens who live and work in mainland Europe the past year since the Brexit vote has been a nightmare of total uncertainty and the present need is for reliable sources of clear information.

This page is intended for my friends and colleagues who live here in the Costa Blanca, and others in Spain who may find it useful.  I shall not go into the issues themselves here but simply provide links and some comments about my own experiences in getting reliable information.

1. Registering to vote in UK election

If you have voted in the UK within the last ten years you are eligible to vote but must register by 22 May 2017 for the general election. In practice, you will need a proxy or postal vote, so allow more time than this for papers to go two ways through the post. Use the online form to register: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

There is a form to print out and sign at the end of this process which must be sent by post or scanned and emailed with details of the person who will be your UK proxy.

You will be contacted by the electoral service of the local authority election office in the place in the UK where you last voted.  They will need the address and full postcode where you last registered to vote.  In my case I received from Canterbury Council the full information and the confirmation of Overseas Voter rights very promptly.  See the example:  Acknowledgement Overseas Voter

2. Tactical voting to sabotage Theresa May’s “hard Brexit”

I am assuming that readers of this blog post will only be interested in stopping the train crash which is heading our way.  (If you are of any other opinion, this blog post is not for you!)  There is information on every UK constituency showing who to vote for against the Conservatives in order to reduce the speed of the Brexit express.  Go to www.tactical2017.com and look up your constituency.  In my case, Canterbury offers two safe anti-Brexit alternatives Liberal and Labour but I choose Liberal as they are much clearer than Labour on their Remain stance.

I am deliberately and reluctantly choosing to vote against the Conservative Julian Brazier MP, who is a great consituency MP and has personally helped me in the past.  These are the kinds of regrettable contradictions of the “Brexit General Election” and there will be difficult choices to make.

3. Eurocitizens 2020

PRESS RELEASE MADRID 21 April 2017:

 

The British in Europe coalition is pleased to have had high level contact with the UK government to discuss the post-Brexit rights of more than one million UK citizens living in the EU. EuroCitizens Spain is part of the British in Europe Coalition. At a meeting in Madrid on Wednesday British in Europe representatives – who come from a dozen UK citizens groups across Europe – informed the government of the difficulties faced by many people as a result of Brexit and urged it to  support our call for all current rights to be conserved.

We will continue to exchange information and put forward case studies that illustrate the extremely complex and intertwined nature of the rights we currently enjoy. We were very pleased to have opened what should now become a constant dialogue between the government and the largest coalition of UK citizens groups in the EU.
British in Europe urged the government to abide by the governing principle contained in our Alternative White Paper, which asks all sides in the upcoming negotiations to first agree that “the UK’s withdrawal from the EU should not have retrospective effect on individuals” and that “UK citizens currently resident in the EU and EU citizens currently resident in the UK should be expressly treated as continuing to have the same rights as they had before Brexit”.
British in Europe also called on the government to explicitly promise UK pensioners living in the EU that those pensions will continue to be updated after Brexit. This is a unilateral matter for the UK government and we are hopeful that it will soon publicly state its position on this matter. Hundreds of thousands of UK pensioners have been left to worry about this for too long. We will also be increasing pressure on EU negotiators and governments to change their position so that an agreement on our rights – and those of 3 million EU citizens in the UK – can be ring-fenced and will stand if there is no wider agreement. Refusal to go down this road amounts to using us all as bargaining chips.
With elections now on the horizon, British in Europe is calling for all parties to include the governing principle for Brexit negotiations in their manifestos. This reads: “The UK’s withdrawal from the EU should not have retrospective effect on individuals. UK citizens currently resident in the EU and EU citizens currently resident in the UK should be expressly treated as continuing to have the same rights as they had before Brexit. This is not confined to a right of continued residence but extends to all related rights such as the acquisition of citizenship, the right to continue to work, whether employed or self-employed, or run a business, recognition of qualifications, right to study, right of equal treatment, right to move between and work freely across all EU countries without loss or change of any existing EU rights, the right to healthcare, pensions, social benefits/social assistance etc. In short, the full complex of indivisible EU citizenship rights that they currently have should be guaranteed for these individuals.

4. Euro Citizens rights organisations in Spain

ECREU (Expat Citizen Rights in EU) is a pan-European group and although it has representation in Spain I have not found the Spanish end of the organisation very quick to respond to enquiries.  In a fast-moving situation there is an obvious need for an alert response from those supposed to be providing information.  Nevertheless, although the Spanish connection is not too hot, I joined the ECREU and have found that Dave Spokes (who is in Berlin) is very good at answering enquiries: davespokes@ecreu.com

See also the main website for ECREU and for those who enjoy Facebook (I do not!) there is plenty going on:

Web site:  http://www.ecreu.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/expatrights

ECREU is in direct discussion with Michel Barnier, chief EU negotiator for Brexit (see newsletter) and that is sufficient reason for me to regard ECREU as the most reliable source of information.

There are other expat citizens’ groups in Spain, including “Bremain” (which seems to have a thing about vetting enquirers!) and there is probably a separate organisation for every three British bars along the costas…

My advice: avoid the minefield and keep it simple.  I recommend joining ECREU.  I would be pleased to hear from anyone with information along these lines.  I do not want a discussion about Brexit on my blog, thank you: this is a Remain site and all UK expats in their right minds will be currently focused on stopping the swivel-eyed loons from their “hard Brexit”.

 

Good luck.


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