Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Supreme Court rules ex-pats cannot vote in EU referendum after 15 years out of the country

Two ex-pats have lost their case in the Supreme Court for the right to vote in the EU referendum next month.

The pair, who have lived in Italy and Belgium for 35 and 29 years respectively, argued that denying them a vote interferes with their EU right to free movement. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that it was not a valid legal basis to challenge the law which says you cannot vote after you have lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Whilst many ex-pats will undoubtedly still take an interest in what happens in the UK, have family here and perhaps still pay some taxes here that interest doesn't - and shouldn't - translate into a right to vote. The referendum will have little to no impact on someone who has lived abroad for 15 years. Under international law they will have gained extensive rights in the country in which they now live. They can't be deported because we have left the EU, nor can they be deprived of their property. This would be a breach of international law and EU law and the EU is certainly not going to change their laws to deprive the 1.2m British citizens living in the EU of their rights when there are at least 2.2m EU citizens living in the UK.