Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

British Embassy calls on UK voters to make their vote count in general election

Voters living in the UAE are required to register ahead of November 26 deadline

British expatriate Bradley Standish will vote from overseas for the first time in the upcoming general election for the UK on December 12. Antonie Robertson/The National
British expatriate Bradley Standish will vote from overseas for the first time in the upcoming general election for the UK on December 12. Antonie Robertson/The National

Britons living in the UAE are being called into action to play their role in helping shape the future political landscape of the UK by registering to vote.

A general election to select the next Prime Minister has been called for December 12, but time is running out for expatriates in the UAE to register as an overseas voter.

Previous elections have seen thousands of votes fail to be counted due to postal delays and last-minute registrations.

The British Embassy in the UAE is encouraging residents to register online before November 26 to ensure they have a say in who leads the country for the next five years.

“We encourage all British citizens living in the UAE to take the opportunity to vote in the UK general election which takes place on December 12,” a British Embassy spokesman said.

“There is helpful advice on gov.uk about how to register for a postal or proxy vote as well as advice for those who may be visiting UAE on election day.”

In the coming weeks, the most pressing issue political parties will be campaigning on will be Britain’s 2016 decision to leave the European Union, the future of the National Health Service, crime, the economy and immigration.

The UK employs a first past the post voting system, with the political party winning a majority of at least 326 of 650 seats elected into government.

In the last election in 2017, 68.7 per cent of voters turned out to elect the Conservative Party in a non-majority government with a record 285,000 votes submitted from overseas.

The latest date to apply for a proxy vote is December 4 and postal voters will need to submit their application by November 26.

According to the latest government figures, there are 102,000 British citizens living in the UAE with 1.5 million Britons visiting the UAE each year.

The embassy does not hold information about the numbers who have registered to vote from the UAE in previous UK elections.

Brad Standish, whose UK constituency is Liverpool Riverside, has lived in the UAE since 2017.

Mr Standish, 26, lives with his wife in Silicon Oasis and owns Standish Services, a web design and digital marketing company.

It will be the first time he is casting a vote from outside of the UK, which a friend will do on his behalf.

“I fully intend to vote in the general election and have somebody willing to be my proxy," he said. "But I wish there was an easier online solution for voting.

“Ideally I want to just designate somebody for all future votes so I don’t have to go through this process every time there is an election or referendum.”

The 2019 general election will be the fourth major national vote in as many years, with leaders elected in 2015 and 2017 following the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Jenny Partington, who lives in Downtown Dubai, has lived in the UAE for three years and will be voting in the Shipley constituency, West Yorkshire, currently a Conservative seat.

“My parents are going to act as my proxy for this election,” said Mrs Partington, 45.

“At the last election in 2017 our voting cards arrived in Dubai on the day of the election and for the European elections this year, they arrived a month after it had happened, so the situation is not ideal.

“I wish there was a way of voting online.”

Election authorities in the UK are encouraging Britons in the UAE to vote by proxy rather than risk unexpected delays to postal votes.

Another Briton in Dubai, Claire Hopkin from Newport in Wales, has done just that.

“If you have kids of voting age back home, get them to act as your proxy,” she said.

“It encourages them to vote and is more reliable than postal voting. Without kids, a proxy is still the best option for overseas voters if there is someone else you can trust.”

Kirsty Powell’s mother is registered to vote on behalf of her and her husband.

Mrs Powell, who lives in Dubai, previously tried to vote from abroad in the 2010 UK general election but volcanic events in Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, at that time grounded many flights causing delays to the delivery of voting packs.

“The only general election we haven’t voted in was 2010 when the forms we had to send to register were delayed by the ash cloud,” she said.

“My main advice would be to get your proxy or postal vote set up as early as possible, as you never know when a volcano may disrupt your plans.”

Updated: November 9, 2019 04:08 PM

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