British Embassy in France to use Queen’s Birthday to get Brexit message across

Britons living in France are invited to a virtual celebration of the Queen's Birthday later this month hosted by the British Embassy - but there is a more serious side to the event.

British Embassy in France to use Queen's Birthday to get Brexit message across
The British Embassy's celebrations will be virtual this year. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

The Embassy’s digital doors will be thrown open between 5pm and 8pm on Thursday, June 24th, for what has been described as a fun, interactive event that will show off the best of British, celebrate the country’s long-standing links with France, and offer a peek behind the scenes of the Embassy. 

You are invited to register for the event HERE.

As well as a chance to offer a toast to the Queen, who turns 95 this year, the event will offer one final chance for any Briton who was resident in France on December 31st, 2020, who has not yet applied for their post-Brexit residency permit, to seek support and guidance. 

The deadline for online applications to be submitted is June 30th, 2021. Find out everything you need to know about applying HERE.

Possession of a permit will be compulsory from October 1st 2021 for any British national over the age of 18, but the application must be submitted by 11.59pm on Wednesday, June 30th. 

Importantly, EU residence permits issued to UK nationals and their family members before the Withdrawal Agreement came into effect will no longer be valid from October 1st, 2021.

A host of Withdrawal Agreement-related information will also be available. The Embassy said that it hoped to have the answers to most questions relating to the WA for Britons in France.

Member comments

  1. Best of British? What would that be then?
    No thanks, there is nothing I am proud about with my birth country any more. I wish the queen a happy birthday though.

  2. Best of British? That’ll be… …Scotland then?
    One hopes that one will be able to swap one’s driving licence by the time this “fun, interactive event” goes ahead. Otherwise one can foresee the Embassy being deluged by those requesting answers regarding this important question relating to the WA for Britons in France.
    The current disgraceful situation is not “fun” nor “interactive” for Britons in France.

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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.