'Big impact': British expats in UAE thrilled to vote in UK elections for first time

3.5 million Britons living overseas to benefit from UK rule change

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 17 Jan 2024, 7:59 AM

Last updated: Wed 17 Jan 2024, 10:25 AM

As millions of British expats become eligible to vote in the UK general elections, several UAE residents said they were excited to get their voices heard.

In 2022, the British government got rid of a curb on its citizens’ voting if they had lived overseas for over 15 years. This has resulted in one of the biggest increases in the country's electoral franchise in a century. Britons worldwide will now be able to register to vote online, regardless of how long they have been living overseas.

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Expat April Kearns, who has been in the UAE for over four years, says she thinks this will make a huge difference. “Given the political landscape today and how many expatriates — who have so far been unable to vote — are likely to disagree with the current conduct and policies coming out of the UK, I think this could make a big impact,” she said.

April Kearns.
April Kearns.

An estimated 3.5 million Britons living overseas will be eligible to vote in the general elections that are expected to take place later this year. They will need to provide details of the address and time they were last registered to vote or living in Britain.

Analytics professional Vasudha Khandeparkar moved to the UAE from London just a few months ago and will vote online for the first time. “I think it is great that the UK allows their citizens to have a say in the process irrespective of residence location,” she said. However, she expects the upcoming elections to be a complex affair.

Vasudha Khandeparkar
Vasudha Khandeparkar

Expat Andrew Bannister who has been living in the UAE for over 18 years said he will not be utilising the change in laws. “When you are looking in from the outside, you see a different perspective,” he said. “I am sure that some politicians are do-gooders but most of them are just egotistical. So unless someone really sticks their head above the parapet and does something that makes me sit up and take notice, I don’t think I will be voting.”

Andrew Bannister
Andrew Bannister

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