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UK Expats Lose the Battle to Vote in the BREXIT Referendum!
28 April 2016 @ 17:58

UK Expats Lose the Battle to Vote in the BREXIT Referendum!

British expats lose High Court battle over ‘Brexit’ vote

By Monira Matin - International Adviser Publication

Added 28th April 2016

British expats will not have the right to vote in the UK’s upcoming EU referendum after a High Court challenge to the rules failed on Thursday.​

The court case was brought by Italian resident Harry Shindler, a 94-year-old World War Two veteran and British lawyer Jacquelyn MacLennan, who lives in Belgium.

The pair claimed that expats living overseas should have the right to vote in EU referendum, due to be held on 23 June, as it will decide whether or not Britain leaves the EU - a decision, they argue, directly affects them.

The decision means that around 800,000 expat voters who are thought to live in Europe have not been granted the right to vote in this year's referendum.

‘15-year rule’

Under current law, UK citizens living abroad for more than 15 years cannot vote in the country’s elections.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the expats had hoped to get a judicial review into section two of the EU Referendum Act 2015, which established ‘the 15-year rule’, for unlawfully restricting their right to freedom of movement under EU law.

But the judges ruled that the law does not restrict their rights and rejected their legal challenge.

Shindler - who has lived in Italy since 1982 – and other British expats have long argued that the 15-year cut-off is “arbitrary” and that rules governing UK general elections are not being applied evenly.

Resident aliens

Aidan O'Neill QC, the lawyer representing the expats, told the court that should Britain decide to leave the EU then Shindler and MacLennan would become "resident aliens" in Europe.

They would no longer be EU citizens and their right to live, work, own property, and receive health care free at the point of use, could be placed in jeopardy, he added.


However, in their ruling the judges said the UK government was entitled to adopt a cut-off period “at which extended residence abroad might indicate a weakening of ties with the United Kingdom”.

They noted that there would be “significant practical difficulties about adopting, especially for this referendum, a new electoral register which includes non-resident British citizens whose last residence in the UK was more than 15 years ago”.

Supreme Court challenge

Shindler and MacLennan have vowed to continue their legal battle by taking the case to the Supreme Court.

Gibraltar gets EU vote

The lawyers in Thursday’s ruling also questioned why the residents of Gibraltar, who would not normally be able to take part in the UK’s general elections, are allowed to vote in June’s referendum.

In 2013, while drafting the EU Referendum Act, MPs argued that the British overseas territory’s 2,000 inhabitants should be given the right to decide whether they wanted to be a part of EU.

Meanwhile, in February, Jersey’s chief minister was forced to deny claims that it rejected an invitation by the UK government to take part in the Brexit vote.

This comes as Hollywood actor John Rhys-Davies set up a petition earlier that month calling for people living in the crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to be allowed to vote in the referendum – so far the petition has only gathered 1,737 signatures. 

Original article here:

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briando55 said:
29 April 2016 @ 09:23

This sounds a fair enough decision to me back home, I don't want to vote on any other countries referendum (my grandad was Scottish!!)

maggiepat said:
29 April 2016 @ 10:04

i was under the impression that those of us that get medical care will do so whether were in or out as its set in stone and cannot be changed

MisterP said:
29 April 2016 @ 15:08

Hi folks, god of you to drop in and comment. I suspect this issue will not go away until after 23rd June.

briando55 : I mostly agree with your point about not voting in other people's elections. H

However the problem is that an exit would affect a UK expat hugely if the country they were living in (say Spain) decided that they no longer had the right to stay, work, have medical treatment etc. so it is a little different to your situation.

Mind you I cannot see the Spanish kicking us Expats out either (too much tax revenue).

maggiepat : "Set in Stone" is an interesting phrase when it comes to politicians! Personally I cannot see a vote to come out as it will be hugely disruptive for at least 5-years In my mind at least.

MisterP said:
29 April 2016 @ 15:08

GOOD of you to drop in even!!!!

cuius said:
30 April 2016 @ 07:52

Given only 1% of those eligible to vote have bothered to register, not exactly a big deal.

This looks like a repeat the "residence card" nonsense. A couple of expats get it into their heads their "'human rights" are being infringed, so a useful ID disappears to be replaced by a bit of paper with no photo - brilliant

moonbeam said:
30 April 2016 @ 20:58

Unfortunately state healthcare will only be available to Spanish citizens and UE members. It´s a matter of economics, which is why the government has already changed the law to disallow access to Spanish state healthcare for residents under the official pension age. It is understandable that they have to do this if you consider how disproportionate the number of Spanish residents in the UK is to the number of UK residents here who would want to continue using the free state healthcare. UK residents will have to apply for Residence Permits again and adhere to the same stricter rules that apply to non EU applicants. In other words, show proof of income and private insurance cover to demonstrate they they will not be a burden on the state.

Although the UK is the largest block of buyers, it is still only 20 percent of the total market. They have nothing against UK buyers - people will still be able to buy property easily - just resident criteria will change for all UK people if they are outside the EU.

The idea of special sympathy for the UK doesn´t really come into it - in fact the remaining EU countries will play hardball with negotiations - perhaps to show other members that leaving the EU is not such a good idea!

I have not got this info from the English Press but from over here.

moonbeam said:
30 April 2016 @ 22:22

Just to clarify a point! .......... disallow access to state healthcare for residents who are early retirees and are under the official pension age,

MikeandHelen said:
02 May 2016 @ 01:26

Healthcare payment by the NHS for care provided in Spain in government facilities is paid for under a bilateral treaty between the UK and Spain. See the BRIXIT thread on the forum.

Personally I think that the 15 year rule is far too generous, reading EOS just shows how far out of touch so many expats are with life in the UK.

moonbeam said:
02 May 2016 @ 10:24

That is the whole point! The bilateral treaty is a UE treaty which will not exist if Britain leaves the UE - unless Britain very generously decides to fund future healthcare for all expats now receiving it in all UE countries covered - which they do not plan to do.

moonbeam said:
02 May 2016 @ 10:55

Just thought I should clarify another little point - the Spanish government is not enamoured with this treaty, as they feel that the agreed payments they receive from the NHS do not actually cover the treatment they provide for such a large number of elderly people, but it is an obligation they have to uphold under this treaty which falls under the UE umbrella.

MisterP said:
04 May 2016 @ 19:16

A lot of interesting comments on what is clearly a divisive issue.

The apathy displayed by many in the face of what could be at very least; a disruptive period before things stabilise again; beggars belief.

#Cuius: is absolutely right when stating that only 1% of those UK Expats eligible to vote have even bother to register to do so. When this is translated into numbers it makes even more apathetic reading. 2000000 UK Expats living in the EU, only 20000 registered to vote! Come on people get with the program (sorry went all Donald Trump there!).

#Moonbeam: mentioned the UE bilateral treaty between Spain and the UK and is absolutely right in that the Spanish Government would love to have some wriggle room to get out of this if they could as the cost must be huge.

#MikeandHelen: is also right in saying that many Expat brits are hugely out of touch with the UK. I would go further and point out that the old days of burying ones head in the hot Spanish sand are well and truly over. Take a read of my other post: for a prime example of this. We see it with our Financial Advice clients every day.

Good to see some lively debate, long may it continue.

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