The Reader: We must give British expats a meaningful say in their future

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier: EPA

British expats who live or retire in Europe, as well as young Britons who want to work there, will face trouble post-Brexit [“Fears grow over status of Britons in post-Brexit EU ”, August 13].

It is the same uncertainty that many European citizens working here now face. The Government has only just published its proposals about the treatment of EU nationals living here, which have now been sent to Brussels. They demand such things as computer literacy. As we saw with the Windrush scandal, the insensitive jobsworths who run our immigration service can be harsh and heartless.

When we leave the single market the rights of Britons in Europe will take a significant step backwards. In France there are seven members of the National Assembly elected by French citizens living abroad, including here in the UK. So French expats have a voice in national politics. US citizens keep the right to vote for their President and Congress wherever they live. In Britain we treat Brits abroad as second-class citizens with most denied a vote back home.

If there is a new consultation on the basis of David Davis’s statement that “a democracy that cannot change its mind ceases to be a democracy” then all British expats in Europe should be given the right to vote on their future.

Denis MacShane​, Former Labour MP and former Minister for Europe

Joe Murphy, Political Editor, replies

Dear Denis

Let's be honest, neither the British Government nor Brussels can be proud of how European Union citizens and British expatriates have been treated.

But I know you are not the type to waste time railing about the past. Your key point, I’m guessing, is the idea that millions more British expatriates should have a vote if there’s ever another in-out referendum.

I can see why this matters to you. Only 264,000 expatriates had a say in 2016 when the Vote Leave campaign won by 1.3 million votes. Your expat army could make a difference.

Brexiteers will fight you tooth and nail, naturally. But I note that all Conservative MPs stood on a manifesto promising “votes for life” for expats (their votes currently expire after 15 years).

I can’t see another referendum happening for years and years to come. But a lesson of 2016 is that tiny details matter. So I’ll watch your campaign with interest.


Be careful of this rabble-rousing around Boris and burkas

I write in response to Anne McElvoy’s column [“Loyalty is the first casualty in the age of ‘Wonderful Me ’”, August 14] in which she draws parallels between Boris Johnson’s recent article regarding the burka and President Trump’s dismissal of Omarosa Manigault Newman from her White House post.

Mr Johnson did not, as many of his critics pretend, espouse the prohibition of the burka in public places. He merely joked that its wearers resemble letter boxes.

President Trump’s language was, as usual, intemperate. It should, however, also be noted that Ms Manigault Newman was happy to accept highly paid positions due to his patronage, both at the White House and on television programmes hosted by him.

Manufactured outrage was once known as “rabble-rousing” — a dangerous activity which may easily turn upon its instigators.

Keeley-Jasmine Cavendish

Stokes is cleared — now discipline him

While cricket fans are relieved that Ben Stokes, who has the potential to become one of our greatest all-rounders, has been found not guilty of affray, this has been a seedy episode. Modern technology allowed us all to see what took place that night and Alison Morgan, one of the UK’s most senior prosecutors, is rightly under fire for creating yet another Crown Prosecution Service shambles.

But this should not prevent the England & Wales Cricket Board from disciplining Stokes for bringing the game into disrepute.

John Cameron

Whatever the facts of the Ben Stokes case, it proves — if proof be needed — that celebrity, clubbing and large quantities of alcohol can be a toxic mix. Perhaps he’s young enough to learn his lesson. Let’s hope so.

Ann Nee

Departure to-do list for Grayling

Rail passengers can expect more punishment in January when steep fare increases kick in [News, August 10]. What needs to be done to sort out this mess? Here are a few proposals that would make a real difference.

Ban companies that breach the terms of their rail services contract from bidding for future franchises; allow public-sector bodies to bid for franchises; give Transport for London responsibility for London suburban rail services; simplify train fares so people have certainty they are paying the lowest price; and introduce more flexible ticketing to reflect modern ways of working (part-time, from home, etc).

And a final point — Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has to go. His career has hit the buffers.

Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Police deserve our praise at all times

We have just witnessed a flickering moment of praise for police officers rushing towards the incident at Parliament Square from a media that is normally only too eager to denigrate the police.

I also wonder how many of those police officers who attended the Westminster incident were, just weeks ago, being taunted by chants of “scum” and “shame on you” by so-called patriots who were protesting about the Tommy Robinson case. Such chants are normally heard from activists on the extreme Left.

Despite the criticism and swingeing Government cuts which have left us with one of the lowest police-to-population ratios in Europe, officers have once again demonstrated the commitment and courage which so endears them to the vast majority of the British public.

Chris Hobbs