See below the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Memorandum produced for the European Union (EU) Referendum Bill as introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Anelay, Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with the following statement:
“In my view the provisions of the European Union Referendum Bill are compatible with the Convention rights”.
In the case of the EU Referendum Bill this interpretation allows exclusion from within the scope of the European Convention on Human Rights, of the right to vote in referendums as well as the national right to vote of British citizens after a 15 year break in UK residency, while including in the franchise under European law, Commonwealth and Irish citizens resident or formerly resident in Gibraltar (the latter included within the South West Region of England for European Parliamentary elections).
The net result for the EU Referendum franchise, is an anomalous and unfair outcome for British citizens after a 15 year break in UK residency , particularly those living within another EU member state, under European law and directly impacted.
Concerning the human rights issues, the following extracts from this ECHR Memorandum demonstrate the contrasting interpretations concerning Commonwealth and Irish citizens resident in Gibraltar (bound by European law) and British citizens after a 15 year break in UK residency, whether now living within another EU member state (also bound by European law) or elsewhere:
13. Clause 2 sets out that the following people are entitled to vote at the referendum:
c. Commonwealth and Irish citizens who on the date of the referendum would be entitled to vote in Gibraltar as electors of a European Parliamentary election in the combined electoral region [i.e. the South West Region of England] in which Gibraltar is comprised.
14. ………For those who derive the right to vote from residence or previous residence in Gibraltar, the franchise is identical to that held under the European Union Act 2011, save for the addition of those Irish citizens who are entitled to vote at European parliamentary elections in Gibraltar. Irish citizens resident in Gibraltar have been added for consistency with Irish citizens resident in the UK.
17. Case law establishes that referendums do not fall within the scope of Article 3 of Protocol 1 [to the ECHR (the right to free and fair elections)] because they are not “elections concerning the choice of the legislature” and, accordingly, that no right to vote in a referendum is derived from that Article.
22. a. As regards UK citizens who are resident abroad and do not qualify as overseas voters or service voters, the European Court of Human Rights has held in the case of Shindler that excluding individuals from the UK parliamentary franchise after a 15 year break in residency is compatible with Article 3 of Protocol 1.