Author Archives: George Cunningham and Rob Harrison

Brits living abroad – let’s hear their voice too!

Around five million British citizens live abroad. They come from all walks of life – working families with children, students, professionals, freelancers, and pensioners. Many continue to pay UK taxes, retaining close connections with the UK, regularly visiting relatives and friends living there. They have often built up business and cultural relationships between the UK and their adopted homeland.

However, our fellow citizens are now under pressure. A large number were disenfranchised in the 2016 EU referendum because of having lived for more than 15 years out of the country. Yet the 1-2 million Brits living in the rest of the EU have the most to lose, especially if there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Freedom of movement and the right to live and work will be substantially restricted. Many EU countries have only provided short term solutions. Most are saying that their future rights will depend on how the UK treats its own citizens.

Outside the EU, Brits are facing other challenges. In Thailand for instance, tightening immigration restrictions in favour of big investors and high spending tourists are deliberately driving out ordinary Brits and other modest income foreigners. Young British citizens are discouraged from attending university in the UK as they are expected to pay fees at the overseas level.

That is why Lib Dems Overseas and Lib Dems in Europe will be launching their new policy proposals “Modernising the relationship between Britain and its citizens living abroad” at the Autumn Conference in Bournemouth. Look out for the fringe event Sunday lunchtime! These proposals will be the first presented by any political party specifically to help Brits living abroad.

We believe passionately that all British citizens, wherever they live, should be treated equally and fairly. The British diaspora’s importance to Britain’s soft power should be encouraged to full potential, especially if Brexit happens. What needs to be done then?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 34 Comments
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