BRITISH expatriates in Bahrain and across the globe are gearing up for the UK general elections, set to be held early next month.

On May 22, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called an early election, which will take place on July 4, in a bid to win a fifth term in office for the Conservatives.

This election will lead to the formation of a new government for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for up to five years.

For the first time, British expatriates living abroad can vote, regardless of how long they have been out of the UK.

“The most important thing in this election for British expatriates is to go and register to vote because this is the first time that British expatriates have been allowed to vote since we now have ‘Vote for Life’,” This is Bahrain society chairperson and British expatriate Betsy Mathieson told the GDN.

“Previously, if you were a British citizen and you had been out of the UK as an expatriate for 15 years or more, you lost the right to vote. That’s now been reversed and we are told that there are some three million expatriates who will now be able to vote in this election.

“I am apolitical from the point of view that I just want people to vote, and use their democratic right. I think it’s very important, especially for young people who have never voted before.”

This general election will be the first since the UK left the European Union in 2020, which had been a hotbed issue in the last voting cycle.

There are a record 4,515 candidates standing to represent the 650 parliamentary constituencies in the UK, with no seat having fewer than five people contesting it.

The British Embassy in Bahrain issued a notice for British nationals in Bahrain, reminding them that the last day to register is tomorrow. British expatriates can register to vote if they have previously lived in the UK, even if they were not registered to vote, no matter how long ago they left or were last registered.

The UK electoral commission added: “You can apply to vote by proxy or by post.

“You can also vote in person if you will be in the UK on polling day. You cannot vote in person at a British embassy, high commission or consulate.”

The commission also recommends voting by proxy as a better option if post will take a long time to reach.

In a proxy vote, a national can ask someone they trust to cast their vote on their behalf.

“We are still awaiting the publications of manifestos and the funding proposals of each, since as expected with a snap election, there are a lot of ideas being presented that haven’t really been thought through,” UK expatriate and British School of Bahrain executive head John Maguire explained.

“If Labour gets into power they are threatening to implement pretty quickly a 20 per cent tax on private school fees.

“Parents in Bahrain will be able to relate to the impact a 20pc increase in fees would have on affordability. This is predicted to then have knock-on effects.

“A flood of children will suddenly need to be educated in government schools, who are already stretched beyond their limits and do not have the capacity to cope with a sudden flux of new students.

“It will also lead to a sharp rise in house prices around ‘Outstanding’ government schools, which will create a social divide, with those wealthy enough to afford a high-priced house near a great school benefiting, and those less wealthy suffering.”

Mr Maguire also noted that while the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats parties’ priorities have not changed, “voters are more weary of those in power, and are perhaps wanting a change”.

“People in the UK want the same as everywhere else in the world; a strong economy, low unemployment, good healthcare, good schools, and lower taxes,” he added. “All parties promise these things, it’s just about who you trust.”

Regardless of who British expatriates vote for, Mr Maguire and Ms Mathieson emphasised the responsibility of all voters to exercise their democratic right.

British expatriates can visit to register to vote overseas by post or proxy.


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