VICTORIA CALLS ON THE PRIME MINISTER TO ENSURE VOTES FOR TROOPS

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Conservative MPs Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Tom Tugendhat MBE, James Cleverly and Victoria Prentis have joined forces to ask the Prime Minister to ensure Armed Forces personnel get a say in the EU referendum on 23 June.

The letter followed Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s intervention during the Prime Minister’s EU statement to the House on Monday. The MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed – who is also Chairman of the APPG Armed Forces Covenant – sought assurances from the Prime Minister that service personnel would be entitled to a vote and receive ballot papers in good time. In his response, the Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP said that “there is plenty of time to put in place the arrangements that she seeks”.

In their subsequent letter, the MPs emphasised that the Armed Forces, particularly those posted overseas, should be able to participate in a referendum that will significantly shape the future of the country they serve. They reiterated that Armed Forces and their families should not be disadvantaged for their service

While the MPs asked for a commitment from the Government that resources would be invested in exploring available options, they suggested that a one-off electoral mechanism could be administered by the chain of command. They reminded the Prime Minister of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, and took the opportunity to ask for a commitment to investigate the ability of military personnel to vote in future elections. A copy of the letter was sent to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission. Victoria also raised the issue with the Defence Secretary during oral questions in the House of Commons on Monday 29 February.

Victoria commented, “I was delighted to put my name to this letter and to raise this on the floor of the House during Defence Questions on Monday afternoon. The EU referendum will be a defining moment in our country’s history, and it is vital that as many people as possible cast a vote on 23 June. I believe it is especially important that those who are serving our country away from home are given the opportunity to participate in the democratic system that they defend.

“I am aware that Armed Forces personnel serving abroad have sometimes been unable to cast a vote in previous elections. I very much hope that any new system introduced for the EU referendum can be used in future elections as well.”