A cross-party campaign pushing for electoral reform in the UK has taken a key step forward.

By Martin Banks

The move has been greeted by those who are campaigning in Britain for the creation of overseas parliamentary constituencies.

In a new development this week, British Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine has tabled an Early Day Motion on the introduction of overseas constituencies.

These exist in some countries, such as France, but not currently in the UK.

The campaign, run jointly by two groups – New Europeans UK and Unlock Democracy – says the UK could benefit by giving a “voice” to the 3.5 British citizens estimated to be currently living abroad.

Campaigners say the interests of Britons living abroad would be better represented by constituencies representing their region of the world.

The reason, it is argued by Unlock Democracy and New Europeans UK, is that this is where people are likely to have aligned interests and similar issues around matters such as status, professional recognition and pensions.

This is preferable to “slotting” them in under one of the 650 parliamentary constituencies in the UK.

The Motion says that “this House notes that the Elections Act 2022 increased the number of UK citizens living abroad that are eligible to vote in UK elections to approximately 3.5 million.”

It further notes “that UK citizens residing abroad are represented by the MP from their last place of residence in the UK, which may be distant from their current place of residence.”

The Motion goes on to say “that the establishment of overseas constituencies would allow UK citizens living abroad to be represented by an MP who is experienced in dealing with the range of problems overseas residents face.”

It also “notes that parliaments in 17 countries have overseas constituency MPs and calls on the Government to work with the Boundary Commission to implement overseas constituencies for the House of Commons and with the Electoral Commission and groups representing UK citizens abroad to run a registration drive for eligible citizens to explain how they can register to vote.”

It was tabled on 8 January and has been signed by several MPs from different parties already.

A campaign spokesman said, “It is great news that this has been tabled. Our campaign is really gaining momentum now and this helps a lot.”

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