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Petition launched for designated MP for expats

Source: Expatriate Healthcare - Sun 20th Jan 2013
Petition launched for designated MP for expats
A British expatriate has launched a petition in order to gain support for his call for an MP with the specific role of representing those living abroad to be introduced.

Peter Johnson, who is a retired policeman, got the idea after France created a new constituency of Northern Europe to cater for those citizens living in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, reports the Telegraph.

France has a total of 11 MPs to represent overseas nationals, while Italy has had MPs with responsibility for expats since 2006, prompting calls for the UK to come into line with other European countries.

Mr Johnson has lived in France, Germany, Malta and Spain, meaning that he understands the needs of expats and thinks that an MP would help to ensure that they are met.

He told the news provider: "There are millions of Brits living abroad and they deserve a say in what goes on. Many of them are still paying tax in the UK in one way or another and they should have a say on where their money goes."

The current system allows expats to vote for up to 15 years after they have left the country to live abroad, but only in the last constituency that they lived in.

Over the years a number of expats have brought cases to court in order to fight the 15-year cut off point, but so far there has been no signal that the government might budge.

If an MP for expats were introduced then this is the sort of issue which they could address, along with current debates about whether those living abroad should receive the winter fuel allowance.

More than 5 million British citizens live as expats, with the highest numbers being in Spain, North America and Australia, suggesting that these are areas where an MP would be most useful.

Mr Johnson said: "As with the French system I see no reason why each geographical area cannot be represented. Europe, USA and Canada, the Middle East and Asia for example."

He added that MPs would be able to make the most of modern technology and hold surgeries over Skype in order to address the issues of their constituents.

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