Interview with Chris Bryant, MP

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September 8

When having proper regard to his background I was appalled at certain of his replies to your questions.
In the matter of national suffrage, Chris Bryant has revealed himself to be completely out of step with the overwhelming majority of the Democratic countries in the world. For example, in the case of the EU Member States, apart from the UK, it was only Denmark and Eire who disenfranchise their nationals for being absent from the country of nationality, with the latter being after 15 years of absence and Denmark after only five years. Further, whilst Germany do disenfranchise their nationals after 25 years of absence, that disenfranchisement only applies where they have taken up residence in a country outside the EU. There are good historical reasons for this, since those who choose to live anywhere else in the world never return to Germany. Whereas a very great many who have exercised their right of free movement in accordance with Article 21 of the TFEU return to reside in their countries of origin within the EU. Indeed, I would not be here now were it not for the fact that I have been unable to sell my home here for the past 10 years, which I attribute to the wholesale corruption during the, so called, housing boom and the large scale of half completed and decaying houses which blight our coast give evidence of that.
In another response, Mr Bryant declares that income taxes payers should be allowed to vote in the country in which they pay such taxes. Mr Bryant is also out of touch with regard to this matter, since I, along with a whole army of other expats, are taxed at source by HMRC on our Crown pensions. Pensions which are awarded for services rendered to the UK Government or to a local authority. This includes all former military service personnel. Teachers, firemen, social workers, civil servants, prison officers, local government personnel, police officers. HM court staff, stipendiary magistrates and judges to name but a few, but without them our home country could not function.
Mr Bryant also said that we should write to the MP of our last constituency in the UK if we seek some redress. He appears to be completely ignorant of the fact that such MPs have absolutely no obligation to respond. Indeed, the MP of my former constituency sets this out on her website. I have also discovered where other MPs also include this on their websites.
Since Mr Bryant also refers to making complaints to members in the Upper Chamber, I believe I was the first to take up the issues of national suffrage and the 15-year rule that was introduced by the Political Parties. Elections and Referendums Act 2000 when it was still in its Bill stage. I accept that prior to that Act entering into force in 2002 the cut-off period was 20 years. At that time, I was still within the 15-year limit when I first began my activity by writing to Lord Mackay when seeking to enlist his support. I did not even receive an acknowledgement to my letter. It was at about that same time when one peer awoke from his slumbers and declared that British nationals who have been absent from the UK for more than 5 years can have no interest in the country. I then went to the Commission for Justice etc., and was, in effect, told that it was nothing to do with them, although in more recent years, Viviane Reding, a former Commissioner for Justice, declared the situation to be undemocratic. I did not stop there, but prepared a submission to the ECHR. Unfortunately, I did not get past their front door. I still have all my work in this matter archived. Indeed, I also posted it up onto our website.
In more recent years, the challenge was taken up by Brian Cave, followed by Harry Shindler and I willingly passed all my work and research over to them, simply because I was swamped daily in cries for help from our fellow expats regarding a wide range of problems faced by our fellow expat citizens. Not least where the UK had been acting unlawfully with regard to the export of certain of their benefits.
If you’re a British expat who has lived outside the UK for at least 15 years, then current legislation denies you the ability to vote in parliamentary elections and referendums.
It’s a policy that, suffice to say, has become very controversial given recent events. Long-term expats already feel that their fate was taken out of their hands when they were denied a vote in the EU referendum and the subsequent General Election, which was an election largely based around Brexit. I certainly would not have moved to Spain had Spain not been a member of the EU.
The outcomes of both these votes have the potential to create life-changing ramifications for UK expats, and those Britons overseas who were angered or made anxious by the results can now only wait in the hope that negotiations continue with the best interests of all expats in mind, but can we in any way have any trust in our FCO, who can always be relied upon to be the last in the queue when it comes to assisting us citizens in some crises or other particularly when of a global nature. Indeed as an elderly British national, I feel quite ashamed of our Government at such times.
The anger of disenfranchised expats also led to French lawyer, Julien Fouchet, filing a legal case against the European Commission. Fouchet declared that, because the referendum vote excluded the say of the group likely to be the most affected by it, the referendum’s result is void and all Brexit talks are illegal and should be cancelled. However, despite there being ‘serious arguments’ in favour of the case and having received hundreds of testimonies from Britons in the EU, Fouchet accepted that his chances of success were uncertain, as was the unlikelihood of his case changing the progression of Brexit negotiations.
Was it not Benjamin Franklin who is credited with having stated that there should be no taxation without representation? We have not come very far from the Great Charter of 12/06/2015, whereas the very Constitution of the USA permits votes for life and indeed, values and respects it citizens’ right to national suffrage and there is no declaration as to the final outcome until all postal votes from outside the USA are also counted
It’s the unfair nature of the situation, as well as campaigning efforts by several expat groups, which have led to the ‘votes for life’ bill being created, and it was more recently confirmed that the bill had passed through its first reading unopposed and without debate in Westminster. As the name suggests, the bill will allow all British expats to vote irrespective of the amount of time they’ve lived outside the UK. However, as we have heard very recently ‘Vote for Life’ is currently not on the agenda and I doubt this will happen before Harry Shindler and myself are dead. Brian Cave has already passed on.
Mr Bryant, in his response to you, has done no more than to adopt the actions of Pontius Pilot. He has also referred to our directing our complaints to Consuls. He appears to have little understanding as to their almost total lack of knowledge of law, let alone Community law. What knowledge they do have appears to having been passed down to them by word of mouth, but then they are not lawyers and in any event, the services they offer are of a very limited nature.

David R. Burrage

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