UK expats lose case on right to vote in EU referendum

24th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

British expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years will not be able to vote in next month's EU referendum, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

A case was brought by Harry Shindler, a 95-year-old Briton who has lived in Italy for 35 years, and Jacquelyn MacLennan, 54, a resident of Belgium since 1987.

They argued that the ban on people who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting in the June 23 referendum was unlawful.

The 15-year limit applies to all elections in Britain.

But their case was rejected by five judges at the Supreme Court after a lengthy legal battle which took their bid up through the English legal system over recent months.

"It is not arguable that there is an interference with the right to free movement," said Brenda Hale, one of the five judges and the Supreme Court's deputy president.

"We do have considerable sympathy for the situation in which the applicants find themselves. We understand that this is something that concerns them deeply, but we cannot discern a legal basis for challenging this statute."

While it was not clear how many people the ruling would affect, some 130,000 British citizens living abroad have applied to register to vote in the referendum since March, according to the Electoral Commission.

© 2016 AFP

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