Scottish expats are currently being denied the right to vote in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence on the 18th September, 2014 but there is a potential legal challenge that the First Minister Alex Salmond may have acted illegally.
“Aidan O’Neill who is an expert in European law was asked by James Wallace a Dumfries born lawyer now based in London for legal advice on the matter. Mr O’Neill said that the rules that had been imposed by the First Minister could be overturned in court with a judicial review finding they violated the right of Scottish expatriates to enjoy freedom of movement under European Union law.”
Such a blanket ban on their voting rights goes far beyond the current 15-year-rule which excludes British expatriates from participating in UK national elections after 15 years abroad and could be considered disproportionate as well as restricting freedom of movement within the EU under European law.
The pressure then is building on all the main UK political parties to perhaps rethink their previous political calculations with respect to the British expatriate community, given the impact of referendums such as for Scottish Independence and UK membership of the European Union (EU) in which many are affected but deprived of their voting rights.
The Liberal Democrats are the first of the main political parties to publicly respond to this undemocratic situation in backing voting rights for expatriates.
The challenge for the other political parties is then how also to respond to the estimated 3 – 5 million potential voters in the expatriate part of the British electorate e.g. in their manifestos for the general election in 2015.
Help us to keep up the pressure by registering to vote via the Electoral Commission website www.aboutmyvote.co.uk and/or adding your vote here in support of our campaign to remove the 15-year-limit on our voting rights.
Reblogged this on wclarkeblog and commented:
Millions of British expats living and working in the EU for longer than 15 years were denied their voting rights in the Brexit referendum. This disenfranchisement is undemocratic. It is a denial of a huge number of people’s fundamental rights. We are UK nationals whose lives will most particularly be affected by Brexit. Our vote could have made a difference in the Brexit referendum result and so, until we are allowed to vote, I cannot consider the result legitimate. My life has been turned upside down by the Brexit referendum from which I was banished. I am one of millions of British expats who represent our country abroad with pride. My family has been British for ever and my grandparents fought wars for Britain and democracy and my family all live in London. All of this makes no difference. I suddenly find myself with no democratic rights. Why can’t I vote? Why should I suddenly lose my fundamental right to vote in political decisions that deeply affect my life, just because the UK arbitrarily decided that after 15 years as an expat I can no longer vote.
I came to work in Europe because Britain was in the EU. Now my status has suddenly been robbed from me.
In any case I am not even really an expat. I live and work in the European Union and my passport says European Union United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the front cover.
In addition the prospects of the younger members of my family (my nephew and niece) for living, travelling and working in Europe will be severely impaired.
I therefore now have to apply for Spanish nationality but do not want to renounce my UK citizenship. It seems Spain does not permit dual nationality with the U.K. because of Gibraltar so I will probably have to hide my British passport, forcing me into a very uncomfortable situation.
My social and working rights depend on EU reciprocal treaty agreements that the UK is abandoning. It will also become increasingly more difficult for me to get work.
Besides that, I also have to put up with more and more resentment against my country among people here.
If I do not take out a Spanish passport I shall have much less freedom of movement than all my neighbours, friends and colleagues. I would in fact become a second class citizen in Spain.
Even more seriously, the atmosphere of division and lack of solidarity being created by Brexit in the world is an incentive for xenophobia and confrontation which fills me with dread. My dual nationality will be an extra guarantee in this situation of hate and mistrust.
We are heading for an isolated and Un- United Kingdom.
Britain cannot isolate itself from the world and should particularly not isolate its own nationals representing the country and its historic democratic values abroad.
Please sign my petition:
Born a scot always a scot no matter where we work or stay,there’s a saying you can take the man out of Scotland but you can’t take Scotland out of the man
As an Ex pat Scot I am very frustrated this subject gets no publicity at all. Should the “Voters” in Scotland vote Yes to independance what happens to Expat Scots?. Do we become Stateless? Will we be forced to be British Citizens (English?Welsh?Northern Irish) but not Scottish?
You raise some key questions which don’t seem to be seriously addressed in any detail by the “Yes” campaign. Also according to a Friends of Scotland survey, 74% of Scots living in the US would vote “No” to independence (if they could that is) and the response of the “Yes” campaign doesn’t seem to answer the issues raised in the link below.
Update: I have found that in my case, 1. I can no longer register for a vote in the UK because I haven’t lived there for more that 15 Years. (Wow, so now what)? 2. I will automatically become Scottish according to this http://scotreferendum.com/questions/what-different-routes-to-citizenship-will-exist-under-the-scottish-governments-proposals-and-who-will-qualify-for-these/ 3.so I lose my British Citizenship and become Scottish if it’s a Yes vote but I have not voted for it. 4. I have lived and worked in Continental Europe since 1986 so I assume a yes vote will bring me a world of troubles finding myself a citizen of a non EU country.
Can this really be legal?
I am a Scottish born UK citizen living in the USA and I am astounded that the criterium for the right to vote is residency, and nor birthright, in a referendum to determine and resolve the legitimacy of an independent Scottish nation. I can only assume, since all Scottish births are of record at Register House, that the criterium was politically and financially driven. By denying the the legitimate right to expatriate Scots to vote whilst encouraging the votes of other nationalities with no skin in the game will question the credibility of the result, whether aye or nae. The legal precedent to allow Scots and only Scots to determine the future of the Scottish Nation should have been addressed in the Parliamentary Act that authorized the referendum.
Re youre reply to Peter C-G . ANY EU CITIZEN resident in Scotland can also vote in Independence Referendum Scotland – same as similar independence referendum for Catalunya . UK is a can of worms when it comes to deciding who can vote -eg . Shetland résidents will no doubt be included in Scotland referendum yet Shetland IS NOT OF SCOTLAND !!?? Under historic evidence it was leased and as the leasehold was extinguished Under the terms of the lease by Nordic Kings Shetland is not of Scotland or UK and dispite a recent legal challenge Westminster will not reply ( for obvios North Sea Oil / Gas interests that Westminster believes is theres only !!)
I have posted many comments on these expat voting rights. Start at the start until 1985 representation of people’s act there was no right for expat 1989 modified 1985 act for expat to register to vote at last electoral register office within 20 years of last registration in Uk . The unlawfully act by MPs passing the Political Parties, Elections, Referendums Act 2000 which under miscellaneous , page 141, amend 20 years to 15 years ROP 1989 THATS IT . DO MPs have the right to EXCLUDE A UK CITIZEN from Representation THAT IS THE LAWFULL QUESTION . It is simple for MPs to vote to modify the ROP Act with exended number of years ONLY for expat .Re SCOTTISH 2014 Referendum and later possible UK EU Referendum the same rules should apply if there is no extension to the 1989 ROP Act ie 20years . I did apply for expat representation but was refused by Electoral commission under the unawfull 15 year rule . UK A DEMOCRACY ??? UK MP HAGUE should be VERY carefully representing UK ‘re UKRAINE and CRIMEA ????
Difficult to see how Scottish expats could mount a legal challenge concerning the Scottish independence referendum. How do you define a Scottish expat? You could be as Scottish as a deep fried Mars bar, a champion bagpiper who wears a kilt every day, born in Scotland of Scottish parents, but your passport still defines you as a British Citizen. Presumably Scots living in other parts of the (still) United Kingdom would class themselves as expats for this purpose. A legal challenge would be futile – but lawyers will do anything for a fee.
Alex Salmond has also apparently stated that Scottish-born citizens living abroad will be granted Scottish citizenship if independence is secured. Logically (but perhaps not politically) he could also apply the same criteria he’d use to define such “Scottish-born” citizens in the future, to define their right to vote (or not) now in the independence referendum. He’s already extended the franchise outside the current UK eligibility limits to include 16-year-olds resident in Scotland. Why not extend it some more?
Salmond doesn’t have the power to extend the vote beyond those who live in Scotland – he’s not president of the republic yet. It would be interesting to know what proportion of the great Scottish diaspora were actually born in Scotland. If Scotland became an independent country all those who considered themselves to be Scottish, wherever they lived in the world, would be able to apply for Scottish citizenship but until then it is an impossible exercise. Residence in Scotland is the only sensible test of eligibility to vote in the referendum.
I agree that in practical terms residence in Scotland seems the only sensible test of eligibility to vote in the referendum and that means those registered on the electoral roll in the current Scottish constituencies I assume. This would include a certain proportion of Commonwealth, English, Welsh and Irish citizens all currently qualified to vote if resident under current legislation I think and with no impact on their citizenship if they decided to vote for independence for Scotland. However, Scots are in the predominant majority.
If ex-pat Scots are able to vote in their referendum this will lead,obviously, to mean we,English ex-pats, will be able to make our voices heard in an in/out vote regarding the EU.