Brits in Italy want to vote to keep Ukip out

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Brits in Italy want to keep Nigel Farage's Ukip out of government . Photo: Ben Stanstall/AFP
07:30 CEST+02:00
With uncertainty reigning over the outcome of the UK’s national election on May 7th, The Local spoke to British people living in Italy to get their views on the vote.

Just days before British voters head to the polls, politics watchers are pointing to a tense election.

Current polls show neither of the two leading parties - the Conservatives and Labour - are due to win an outright majority. The likely battle to form a coalition is turning heads, but it is the rise of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party (Ukip) which appears to be a greater cause for concern among some Brits.

The challenges to the UK’s two-party system have also raised eyebrows abroad, with Brits in Italy making their minds up about which box to tick.

While the UK Electoral Commission was unable to tell The Local how many people would be voting from Italy, Brits have the right to vote back home for the first 15 years they live abroad.

And with anti-EU sentiment gathering momentum in the UK over the past few years, many who didn’t vote in the last election will go to the polls in defence of their right to live and work in mainland Europe.

Giselle Stafford is one British voter in Italy, who said she filled out an online form, emailed her local council in the UK, and sent a form by post.

“The process was fairly easy, although remembering the last address we were registered to vote and the right dates was a bit of fun!” she told The Local.

Despite the ease of registering, Stafford admitted that the upcoming election would be the first in which she had voted from abroad by post. “Mainly because we were ill-informed before and didn't realize we could vote as expats,” she explained.

Stafford was prompted to vote owing to the rise of Ukip: “I feel this particular election, with unsavoury elements knocking on the door of Number 10 (the prime minister’s official residence), is indeed an exceptionally important one to vote on.

“I wouldn't even want to visit my home country if Ukip got in,” she said.

Gareth Horsfall, a financial advisor, has lived in Italy for over ten years. Wary that his right to live in Europe might be under threat, he said he is voting in this election despite not doing so in the 2010 elections.

“I felt this one was important in terms of contributing to a vote that might act as a force against the anti-European rhetoric that has surfaced in the UK in the last few years,” he told The Local.

“I thought I needed to vote to make a statement that for me, as a British emigrant to mainland Europe, it is inconceivable that Britain should exit the eurozone and I, as well as many others, be faced with the restrictions imposed on non-EU members regarding freedom of movement within the zone.”

Horsfall added that the EU, despite its troubles, “has opened up many doors for people like me to live and work abroad and have a different lifestyle to that offered in the UK."

He also believes that a UK exit from the EU would be a disaster economically and “a nightmare for the millions of British emigrants to mainland Europe.”

Marina Webster, who owns a villa rental business in Marche, won’t be voting, but only because she was unaware that Italian residents without a UK address could do so until recently.

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That said, she does think it’s important to vote, especially now.

“Even if only to express a preference for the ‘least worst’ option,” she added.

“Ukip scares me.”

But not all British people in Italy feel the same sense of duty. Living abroad, Andrew McDonald said he saw no reason to vote in the UK elections.

“What's the point in me voting for parties in England if I live in Italy? It won’t change my life,” he said. 

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