Expats lose legal bid to vote in EU referendum

Posted On: 
28th April 2016

British expats have lost a legal bid to overturn the rules banning them from voting in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

Expats who have lived outside the UK for 15 years or longer will be denied a say in Britain's referendum on EU membership, a court has ruled
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Some 700,000 people who have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years do not have the right to take part in the 23 June poll under British laws.

But a group of British citizens living in the European Union launched a High Court challenge, citing fears they may lose health and residency benefits where they live if Britain votes to leave.

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The action was led by 94-year-old Harry Shindler, who lives in Italy, and lawyer Jacquelyn MacLennan, who lives in Belgium.

But the court ruled today there were not grounds for a judicial review, denying expats a vote in the historic referendum.

Ahead of the verdict, Mr Shindler said: “Not having the vote in the referendum is stupid because we are the people who will be most affected.”

The Conservatives promised in their manifesto to change the 15-year rule for general elections, although so far no action has been taken.

Mr Shindler had argued since peers were allowed to vote in referendums but not general elections, these expats should receive the same treatment.