With the Brexit result still fresh in mind, the U.K. election seems even more relevant than ever, especially for expats abroad.
Today, the U.K. will hold the general election. Voting has already begun at over 40,000 polling stations across the country.
Counting will begin tonight, once voting ends at 22:00 BST. 46.9 million people are said to be able to vote in the U.K., which has increased from 46.6 million from the last general election in 2015.
Currently Conservatives are topping the election polls, and said to have 43.3%, but Labour are closing the gap closely with 36%.
The 15-year rule
Expat’s living abroad are said to be able to vote, as long as they have been living outside the U.K. for less than 15 years. That means there may be millions of British citizens abroad currently unable to vote.
The Conservative party, as well as Liberal Democrats have said they are looking to make alterations to this rule, to include more expats’ votes. However, Labour and UKIP have currently remained silent on the matter.
After a surprising referendum result last year, the citizens of the U.K. abroad are now fearing changes to their current situation. May is moving forward with Brexit and is said to still be making plans on immigration and trade agreements with the rest of the EU for the near future.
A special agreement with Spain is to be made regarding territory of Gibraltar, as well as with the rest of the EU for British expats living abroad, foreign expats in the U.K.
Spaniards have recently expressed concern of a future decline in the tourism and expat real estate sectors, currently two of Spain’s highest contributing economic industries.
The U.K. and Spain both could be at loss depending how the future Prime Minister negotiates the Brexit plans. Both invest heavily in each other’s countries over several industries.
Jeremy Corbyn, however, and the Labour party have said that they would still give MPs the chance to reject a final Brexit deal if he wins the election, which could mean new arrangements for EU immigration, and possible security for those expats living abroad.
Gibraltar is another worry for Britain, as the Spanish foreign minister warns it could become isolated after Brexit. Depending on negotiations and which party wins today’s election, visas and border control could be needed crossing the Spanish-Gibraltar border every time. This could cause economic decline in several areas including tourism and trade, and potentially jeopardise the U.K.’s relationship with Spain.
The Liberal Democrats and UKIP are the next two major U.K. parties, with the Lib-Dems said to have an estimated 7.8% of the votes, and UKIP 4.4%.
The country is currently divided by opinion, but whichever party succeeds tonight, will have tough negotiations and planning ahead, to try to provide security for citizens living both inside and outside the U.K.