Monday

18th Oct 2021

UK to block 1.5m EU citizens from referendum

  • Yousaf said it's illogical to 'disenfranchise [the 1.5m] over their own future' (Photo: secretlondon123)

Most of the 1.5 million citizens from other EU countries living in the UK will be excluded from voting in its referendum on EU membership, the UK government has said.

In a statement on Monday (25 May), it announced that citizens from just three EU countries - Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus - along with residents from Commonwealth countries, will be eligible.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Malta and Cyprus are Commonwealth members, while Irish citizens have the right to vote in the UK.

UK nationals who have lived overseas for less than 15 years will also have the right to vote in the ‘in/out’ poll, which prime minister David Cameron has promised will take place before the end of 2017.

More than 2 million Britons live and work elsewhere in the EU.

The rules governing the referendum will be set out in an EU Referendum Bill set to be introduced in Westminster on Thursday.

It will be broadly the same as for a general election, rather than local or European elections, when all EU citizens are able to vote. In total, just over 45 million people will be eligible. Unlike the referendum on Scottish independence held last September, the franchise will not include 16 and 17-year-olds.

The exclusions were criticised by Humza Yousaf, the Europe minister in the Scottish government, who said the UK government risks using “the rhetoric of division”.

"Excluding EU citizens, many of whom live here for a number of years, pay their taxes, their children attend local schools, to disenfranchise them over their own future in this vote is illogical, is utterly perverse and creates a democratic deficit,” he said.

The Scottish National party and the opposition Labour party want the voting age to be lowered to 16 and are expected to join forces to table amendments.

For his part, Ukip leader Nigel Farage welcomed the proposed rules as “sensible and reasonable”.

The government is considering whether to launch a Treasury study into the economic impact on Britain if it leaves the 28-country bloc or is able to obtain reforms.

Last week, the Bank of England accidentally revealed that it has begun a secret audit to examine the potential costs of a Brexit.

Cameron kicks off EU reform tour

UK prime minister David Camerion will meet five government leaders this week about Britain's future in the EU. Meanwhile, Germany and France have plans for more eurozone integration.

News in Brief

  1. Poland legalises refugee pushbacks
  2. Report: China's Xi to snub UK climate summit
  3. Norway killings 'appeared to be' Islamist 'terrorism'
  4. Le Pen vows to 'dismantle' wind-power plants
  5. Slovenia PM tweets antisemitic conspiracy theory
  6. Italy sentences ship captain for Libya pushback
  7. Polish PM and von der Leyen to clash in Brussels next week
  8. MEPs call for improved roaming rules

Feature

Italy on edge as neo-fascists stir violence

Neo-fascist groups are planning new protests in Rome after last weekend's riots, in a heady climate in which the pandemic and immigration have fuelled extremist feeling.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge Sassoli to sue EU Commission on rule of law
  2. MEPs seek EU law on bogus anti-media litigation
  3. Africa seeks EU help on global vaccine-waiver
  4. Giant of 20th century European design recognised by EU
  5. Italy on edge as neo-fascists stir violence
  6. Gas-price spike will backfire on industry, energy guru says
  7. Scientists raise alarm on Greenland's ice-sheet loss
  8. EU calls for ban on Arctic oil and gas drilling

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us