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BREXIT

France fires late word of warning to Brits over Brexit

The French president François Hollande has taken the opportunity to tell British voters of the dangers of Brexit on the eve of the referendum.

France fires late word of warning to Brits over Brexit

France would see Britain's exit from the European Union as “irreversible” if the Leave camp wins Thursday's referendum, President Francois Hollande said.

“It's more than the future of the United Kingdom that is at stake, it's the future of the European Union,” Hollande said, before announcing a trip to Berlin next week ti discuss the fallout from the vote with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A Brexit would “necessarily have extremely serious consequences,” he added warning that a Brexit would put Britain at “very serious risk” of losing access to the bloc's single market.

Hollande was speaking on the eve of the EU referendum in the UK, which will decide whether or not Britain remains a member of the European union.

French politicians have been eager to stay out of the campaigning up until now, not wanting to come across as interfering int British affairs, which may antagonise voters.

However Hollande's words of warning are echoes of previous cautionary tales offered up by himself and other members of the French government.

Earlier this year the president warned that there would be “consequences” for how migration was managed after meeting Prime Minister David Cameron for an Anglo-French summit in northern France.

“I don't want to scare you but to tell the truth, there will be consequences… including on the question of people… the way in which we manage migration issues,” he told reporters.

Under the 2003 Le Touquet border treaty, Britain is allowed to carry out border checks on French soil, stopping many migrants.

Earlier that day France's Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron caused a storm when he suggested that the “Jungle” migrant camp would end up on the English side of the Channel if Britain voted to leave the UK.

Pro-Brexit campaigners have dismissed the statements from French politicians as pure scaremongering.

Elsewhere on Thursday the French were trying to influence the vote in a far more positive way by handing out love letters from the French to the UK at King's Cross Station in London.

However the original plan of Operation Croissant was to hand out the famous French pastries, however this was scuppered by British police who pointed to election rules that barred the handing out of food, in case it swayed voters minds.

(AFP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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