Tax exiles and expats handed back right to vote in UK elections

Outrage as celebrity tax exiles and expats including Philip Green, Mick Jagger and Richard Branson are handed back the right to vote in UK elections

  • Current rules prevent citizens from voting if they have lived abroad for 15 years 
  • But these are set to be scrapped under the Budget announced on Wednesday
  • Britain’s wealthiest expats such as Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Philip Green to benefit

Britain’s expats – including celebrity tax exiles – will soon be handed back the right to vote in UK elections for the first time in 20 years in a move that has sparked widespread outrage.

Current restrictions, introduced in 2002, prevent citizens from voting in British polls if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years – but these are set to be scrapped under plans announced in the Budget on Wednesday.

This will mean some of Britain’s wealthiest expatriates, including Sir Mick Jagger, who owns homes in France, California and in the Caribbean; Monaco-based Sir Philip Green; and Sir Richard Branson, who owns the island of Necker, will all benefit. 

The change would also apply to Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, formerly based in Switzerland but now settled in Monaco, who would have reached the 15-year threshold in 2022.

But the move has been met with fierce backlash including from Labour MP Margaret Hodge who branded the move as an ‘insult to law-abiding tax-paying citizens’.

Britain’s expats – including celebrity tax exiles – will soon have the right to vote in UK elections for the first time in 20 years including Sir Mick Jagger (centre) who owns homes in France, California and in the Caribbean


Monaco-based Sir Philip Green (left) and Sir Richard Branson (right), who owns the island of Necker, will also benefit

The vote will be given to thousands of Brits who have retired or set up businesses abroad.

It is thought that five million UK citizens currently live outside of Britain – but only 230,000 of them registered to vote in the 2019 election, according to the Electoral Commission.

One tycoon, who will benefit from the rule change, told The Sunday Times: ‘The cynical view would be there’s a gross excess of Conservatives over Labour in the offshore community. 

‘It wouldn’t surprise me if that turned out to be the rationale.’ 

And the move has sparked outrage including from Labour MP Margaret Hodge who told MailOnline: ‘It really takes the biscuit to allow people who deliberately choose to avoid paying their fair share of tax the right to participate in our democracy. 

The change would also apply to Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, formerly based in Switzerland but now settled in Monaco, who would have reached the 15-year threshold in 2022

‘Their money could be used to fund a decent rise in nurses’ pay – that’s what the money would be used for.

‘Their failure to pay tax means we don’t have enough money to pay nurses. 

‘Allowing them the right to vote is an insult to every law-abiding tax-paying citizen of this country.’ 

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office told MailOnline: ‘We will be scrapping the arbitrary rule that prevents British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting and make it easier for expats to participate. 

‘Most British expats retain deep ties to the UK – many have family here, are planning to return, have a lifetime of hard work behind them or may even have fought for our country.’ 

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