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Expats lose bid to scrap 15 year rule for EU referendum

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Expats lose bid to scrap 15 year rule for EU referendum
D Smith/Flikr
12:10 CEST+02:00
A high court bid to force the British government to change the law that bars long-term expats from voting in the crucial EU referendum has been thrown out by judges.

Lawyers acting for the two British expats who launched the legal battle have confirmed they will seek leave to appeal directly to the UK's Supreme Court following their failure to convince two judges to overturn the rule.

Some two million British expats living in the EU, including tens of thousands in France and Spain, are barred from voting in the crucial June 23rd referendum because they have lived outside Britain for longer than the 15-year cut off point.

Despite them facing the prospect of becoming “resident aliens” if the British public votes to quit the EU, judges at the High Court in London refused to overturn the 15-year limit in time for the referendum.

Following the judgement Richard Stein, the lawyer from Leigh Day representing the claimants, said: “We are obviously disappointed that the High Court has denied us the opportunity to challenge the decision by the Government to exclude British citizens from the EU referendum.

“We now intend to take the legal battle to the Supreme Court, the highest Court in the country, so that all British citizens living elsewhere in the EU can be part of the democratic process to vote in this referendum which will have a very real impact on their lives.

“We believe that there is precedent for fast track legislation being put through Parliament in a matter of days in response to court judgement, so  there would be no need for the referendum to be delayed if the Supreme Court rules in our favour.    

“Since this is a vote in a referendum rather than in an election there is no need to link the votes of Britons in Europe to any particular constituency in the UK.   Possession of a British passport should be enough.”

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