In some respects the Brexit referendum itself was a violation of human rights, argues Adrian Low. Three substantial groups were denied the opportunity to vote when inclusion of any two of those groups would almost certainly have reversed the result. Rational democratic decision-making was negated by a campaign of exaggeration and lies and unnecessary last-minute poll predictions encouraged complacency in the turnout for Remain.
The connection between human rights and democracy is well known. It is written into many national constitutions, in the UN declaration on human rights and in the EU treaties. Statements typically say that individuals, irrespective of country, culture and context, are equal in dignity and rights and a country’s democratic processes should protect the individual’s opportunity to influence their governance and uphold their human rights.
The European Court of Human Rights, for example, has highlighted the human right to elected representation and has developed case-law guidance on the rights of citizens to vote.
The UK Human Rights Act includes three areas where the Brexit vote has, or potentially will, deny human rights. These are Article 3 of Protocol 1: the right to the free expression of the opinion of the people, (in elections/referenda); Article 14 which makes it illegal to discriminate on a wide range of grounds including … national or social origin, and Article 5: the right to liberty and security.
The Brexit vote potentially affects many EU and UK expats’ ability to retain their current home, the current education of their children, to be able to afford health care, to own property and businesses, to employ others to live securely and to travel freely etc. It is a basic human right for each such individual to have a voice and to have a vote.
Three groups were denied the right to vote at the referendum. They were not offered the opportunity to influence the outcome.
Denial of resident rights
The first group comprises most EU (non-UK) citizens resident in the UK. This is the largest group of about 3.3 million people or 5% of the population of the UK. There are two human rights issues.
Firstly the issue of unequal treatment based on nationality. Essentially the UK has two electoral registers. One is for local and EU elections, the other for Westminster elections. The first register includes all EU residents in the UK. The second register only includes residents from the EU who are citizens of the UK, Eire, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus. On 25th May 2015 the UK government chose to use the second register plus Gibraltar (only 30,000) for the referendum on Britain in the EU. Consequently, although some residents from the EU who are not UK citizens were allowed to vote, most were not. The right to vote depended on which country they came from. Denying the opportunity to vote in such a crucial referendum simply because the UK resident is a citizen of country A (France, for example) rather than country B (Malta, say) is a denial of the human rights of the UK resident who is a citizen of country A, contrary to Article 14 of the UK Human Rights Act where discrimination is not allowed on the basis of national origin.
Citizens of the commonwealth (such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, but also including Malta (EU) and Republic of Cyprus (EU) etc.) who were resident in the UK were given a vote. Citizens of Eire resident in the UK, Eire being in the EU but not in the Commonwealth, were also given a vote. Citizens of Gibraltar were given a vote in Gibraltar. Other EU citizens resident in the UK were not permitted to vote. Had it been a European election or a local election they would have had a vote. That use of this electoral register, in this case, denied universal and equal suffrage precisely when the issue is crucial to EU residents. It was a major error of judgement that was also contrary to the UN declaration of human rights (Article 21(3)):
The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage…
Secondly the right to a voice. Residents in the UK most likely to be affected by a decision to leave the European Union are precisely those EU citizens who are working in the UK with families in schools, with their own businesses, some employing UK staff, many owning their own homes and most contributing to the tax income of the UK. They are now in no man’s land with respect to their future. This potentially denies them in the future their liberty and security in this country. Denying those most affected any say in their future is denying a basic human right. (Article 5 UKHRA)
EU residents in the UK comprise about 3.3 million people. The referendum majority for Brexit was 1.3million and it is likely that most EU citizens resident in the UK would have voted to remain. With no say in the referendum any eventual removal of the non-UK EU residents from the UK were that to be the result of negotiations, would effectively amount to the UK implementing a nationalistic ethnic cleansing.
Denial of expat rights
The second group is the expats who have lived outside of the UK for 15 years or more. Some of them work abroad because that is what their employer requires of them. Others choose to live there for reasons of health or living standards, some retire there precisely because, embedded in EU legislation, there are reciprocal residency, education, land ownership and healthcare rights. The Conservative Party manifesto in 2015 recognised this 15-year limit to be an anomaly and they have begun to reverse the position enabling all expats to vote in a consultation document ironically entitled A democracy that works for everyone. But that is too late for the Brexit vote. Many countries impose no time limit. The USA, for example, gives the right to vote for life whilst still a US citizen.
There is also a long-standing principle that if you pay tax to a country you have the human right to have your voice heard in the politics of that country. The concept of no taxation without representation came about when America, in 1765 was a colony of the British, who tried to tax the colony without giving them any voice in the UK legislature. The current 15-year limit is arbitrary and therefore neither universal nor equal. Estimates suggest about 700,000 such expats live in the EU. It is likely that most would vote to remain.
Denial of youth rights
The third group only emerged as a group in 2014. When the Scottish independence vote was taken, UK law allowed regional votes to included young people aged between 16 and 18. The argument made for their inclusion was that they would live long with the consequence. They are not allowed to vote in national votes, but only in regional votes. That is neither universal nor equal.
The Scottish referendum was a national vote for Scotland, the nation. Many feel that the UK Brexit referendum is at least as important as the Scottish independence referendum. According to the National Union of Students, 76% of the 16-18 age group wanted to vote. It is a broken system that allows the young people to be heard in referendum A, a referendum key to their future but not in referendum B, equally, key to their future. That is a denial of their human rights. There are about 1.5 million 16-18 year olds and those in the 18-24 age group who voted did so 75% for remain.
Denial of the proper factual basis of a right of free choice
Democracy requires truthful campaigns and the quality of both Brexit campaigns was very poor. When campaigners tell lies and some elements of the media exaggerate them, somehow the electorate is expected to discover the lies and make a rational decision on truth. That is not always possible. If some hear the lie and do not hear the counter argument then they may vote accordingly. Both campaigns exaggerated. The Leave campaign had a battle bus suggesting that the UK paid £350million per week to the EU without pointing out that the EU pays £283million per week back to the UK. The net outflow is £67million per week. Further posters displayed the suggestion that the same £350million every week could, instead, be given to the NHS if the UK were to leave the EU. That was a gross lie and the country would be bankrupting itself if it attempted to do so.
Deciding which way to vote based on exaggerations or on lies is not democracy. Democracy depends on people voting after some forethought based on a truthful debate. The Brexit campaign and heavily biased media corrupted the democratic process. Hearing the truth is a human right which should not be denied for political ends.
Late Polls – a problem in themselves
Compelling arguments about the influence of last-minute polls have been made in both the Brexit referendum and the US presidential vote. Where polls indicated one outcome was likely it meant some voters who would have voted for that outcome, did not bother to vote because they believed the outcome was already in the bag. Indirectly, therefore, last-minute polls undermine the proper democratic process. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of polls both before and since the referendum have shown that the country favours staying in the EU.
The proper democratic response
There are four alternatives
- Unpalatable it may be, but the preferable way forward is to re-run the referendum, recognising the previous referendum as (a) a failure to engage with all those who should fairly have had a voice and (b) that truth was badly compromised in much of the campaign. A second referendum should be called when the original referendum bill has been amended to include all the groups that should fairly be allowed to vote and when the (local/EU) electoral register has been duly updated. That will not happen overnight. The campaign should be re-run with proper legal safeguards on advertising and rhetoric, without any published polling in the final two weeks of the campaign.
- Alternatively, any final negotiations should be put to the UK public, with due care for human rights in the use of the right electoral register. As in 1. above, facts should be clear and not driven by newspaper headlines or political rhetoric, but by the truth.
- The Supreme Court now expects parliament to vote on whether Article 50 should be invoked. Given the significant abuse of human rights argued in this article, the answer should be that it is not invoked. Then alternative 1. should be implemented to be sure of a proper way forward.
- If none of these is possible then there should be an appeal to law in the UK, or the EU Court of Human Rights, brought by some EU (non-UK/Malta/Eire/RU Cyprus) residents of the UK claiming the denial of their human rights and the opportunity to vote on a critical life issue for many of them.
Doing one of these will begin restoring faith in the democratic process and only then will the country become less divided, recognising the proper fairness of the democratic systems and respecting the human rights of all affected by any subsequent decision.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE. Image by Maina Kiai (CC BY 2.0).
Revd. Adrian Low is Emeritus Professor of Computing Education at Staffordshire University and Church of England priest for the Costa del Sol West Chaplaincy in Spain. He is the author of Introductory Computer Vision, Imaging Techniques and Solutions.
Great article, sums up a lot of my thinking.
There is no reason why non-UK nationals should be voting on a constitutional matter. It is not their country and therefore not their decision. Expats are a different problem, but living outside the UK for over 15 years does rather suggest a disengagement from the country, and also a lack of understanding of the issues involved, which are not only being able to go and live in another EU country, but much more complex. Many of the issues: the lack of democracy in the EU, the permanent loss of sovereignty for the UK parliament, the racist attitude to non-EU citizens who have to jump through hoops to enter the UK despite many being descesndants of UK nationals or living in countries which are members of the Commonwealth, and the protectionist tariff regime used against, for example, countries in Africa exporting food to the EU, but also to Australia, NZ and Canada are all issues which are important to citizens of the UK. Being able to settle in another EU country is a minority interest, but UK citizens resident in the UK (and Commonwealth and Irish citizens also resident) were able to take this into account in their vote.
The piecemeal choice of the eligible voters was obviously an abuse of human rights. It is hard to imagine why, say, the Mozambique citizen resident in UK have been allocated to vote, while US or Dutch UK resident have not.
This is a very clear and easy to understand outline of the facts.
Is anyone taking up any of these cases for any of these 3 groups?
Clever people can be stupid.
“Clever people can be stupid”? What does that even mean? Analogous to ” Horses can be cows”? Do you mean clever people can be misguided, misinformed? Is that what you mean? Because you see stupid people are always stupid. They respond to emotion and rhetoric, which reinforces their own narrow, but comforting view of the world. They want simple answers which they can understand, because they’re very often unable to process complex issues or demonstrate critical reasoning. That’s why slogans on the side of buses are appealing to them. But they also very often don’t realise that they are, in fact, unremittingly stupid. It’s known as the Dunning-Kreuger effect; do look it up if you’re unfamiliar with it. It really is awful for clever people to have to deal with it. It’s like if you’re dead. It’s okay when you’re dead, you don’t know you are, you just carry on being dead, while everyone around you is affected by it and gets upset and frustrated by the reality. It’s the same when you’re stupid.
NO! It’s very simple clever people can be exceedingly stupid. Or as my very wise mother would say “Most clever people don’t have the common sense they were born with” I take grave issue with one of the author’s points which is this:- Why should someone who abandoned living in the UK OVER fifteen years ago (taking their spending and tax-paying cash with them) have any right or expectation to have a say in the future of that same country?
Given that it’s a say in their own future since they may not have the right to remain in the country where they currently reside, then they should have been given a vote. It could disrupt their lives much more than the average Brit, so what happens as a result of this vote is very much their business.
Excellent article. Most British citizens living out of the UK pay some form of tax in the UK.
You are not making your point at all. In fact, you are confirming the Dunning-Kruger effect. Your mother was the opposite to very wise in saying that, quote, “Most clever people don’t have the common sense they were born with”, since this is an entirely baseless statement and contrary to empirical evidence.
Someone who abandoned the UK over 15 years ago should never be disenfranchised because, A) They are still British citizens and it is their fundamental right and B) They did contribute to the British economy during all the years they worked and payed tax in the UK prior to their departure.
By the way, you actually make a very good argument for granting the right to vote to EU citizens, i.e. that EU citizens in the UK work, pay tax and do their spending in the UK.
Thank god you are not one of those!
Desperately want Brexit to be overturned. Its such a backward step , We are better off being in the EU where
we can address the problems. We need to think of the future for our young people.
Leaving EU is a backward step and young people wanted to stay so what are You talking about?
According to this article, which I applaud, there are an estimated 700 000 UK citizens living in other EU member states than the UK and disfranchised through living abroad over 15 years. This includes even officials and civil servants of international institutions of which the UK is a member, recruited AS UK citizens and BECAUSE they are UK citizens. All EU institutions, the Council of Europe, UN agencies and NATO are concerned, but not the British Council – WHY?
But there are also many other UK citizens world-wide, also denied the vote through living abroad more than 15 years. In total we are probably more than 2 million disfranchised in this way, and are, with the other UK citizens living abroad for less than 15 years and the 3.3 million EU citizens denied a vote in the referendum, the most affected.
HMG should IMMEDIATELY put a stop to this suicidal, farcical tragedy.
If you have made another country your home for more than 15 years why should you have a say in our future? I don’t get to vote in elections for the town I grew up in because I don’t live there any more. Why should someone living in another country get to vote in the UK?
Because you are about to burn their right to live abroad through Brexit…?
– because the left wing, pro europe, remoaners would try even to get 70+ year old pensioners living in spain for 30 your to vote to stay in the EU. ‘
‘leave no stone unturned in the quest for spurious reasons to contest and reverse the legitimate referendum decision’
Expats in Spain or France were asked on TV. They said they would have voted remain but just before the camera went off them one said “Of course if I still lived in the UK I would have voted leave.” The others were quick to agree.
Many leavers would have voted remain if it meant equal cooperation with the other countries but unfortunately Germany made it clear that they would take over taxes, laws, fishing rights, even our bbc, etc. Just read ‘The Economy of Germany’ by a German author. It soon becomes clear that Germany becomes richer while the other countries become poorer.
They’re NOT ‘disenfranchised’ they’re being both selfish and greedy. Most of them abandoned Britain taking their spending and tax-paying cash with them without a backward glance; so having enjoyed the benefits of living elsewhere they now want a say in how this country moves forward AWAY from the EU?! Now THAT’S utterly selfish. May I also point out that there’s a big wide world out there with which we can now trade on our own terms and that we’re the leading nation in a little club called The Commonwealth (which we should NEVER have turned away from to join the EU) – a club based on our old empire but which is so good one nation never a part of that empire wanted to join.- and we share a monarch with most of the members. There’s more to the world than Europe – I suggest you but a world atlas and take a look.
Sign the petition to Parliament calling for votes for those excluded from the June 23 referendum:
(My estimate of the numbers involved is 5½ million – 1.5 16- & 17- year olds, a firm number; a guesstimate of 2.2 million Brits overseas not excluded by the 15-year rule; and 2.2 million unenfranchised EU citizens, a firmish number. See http://bit.ly/2cn7hrO for details of how I obtained these numbers. In any case, it is several million who were excluded from a say in their future.)
Thanks for this – I had signed the petition, along with many others! And special thanks for the references to the numbers involved.
We don’t ordinarily give children the vote, nor do we give people who’ve made another country their home or those who are not citizens the vote so why should we do it for a referendum on EU membership?
But other countries and jurisdictions do. 16-year olds vote in Scottish elections, and also in Jersey, Guernsey, Austria, Argentina… Permanent residents or whatever nationality are allowed to vote in Jersey, Guernsey, New Zealand, Chile (after 5 years), and of course int he UK if they are Irish or Commonwealth citizens… France & the US are countries that give votes to their nationals wherever they reside (France in particular has dedicated MPs for their overseas nationals, a move that I would favour, since the worries of expats get drowned by local concerns). And remember that national decisions *do* affect overseas citizens, such as the recent UK decision that if you have less than 10 years state pension contributions, you will get nothing, and of course the loss of rights from Brexit.
The UK’s electoral arrangements have not been ordained by God. Where they are unfair, they should be challenged and changed. ‘Would you think slaves ought to be happy because slave owners have voted to retain slavery?
Note the petition to Parliament
is not about re-running the referendum but calls for all future voting to be more fairly representative.
France has representatives for overseas citizens because it clings to its imperial past.
Funny, I don’t remember these arguments being used for the General Election in 2015. Or any previous GE for that matter.
That’s because governments are elected for a maximum of five years, after which they may be replaced and their policies abandoned or reversed if the electorate wishes. Brexit is effectively irreversible, removes rights and will have effects that will last for decades.
Joining the EU or EEC as it was also had implications for future Generations but was passed by Governments elected on the same franchise as for this Referendum and in the previous referendum on membership of the EEC the same franchise was used as for the 2016 Referendum. Therefore if the vote to leave the EU was a breach of Human Rights then so were the votes to join it
Joining the EC GAVE added rights to citizens. Leaving the EU REMOVES acquired rights from around 500 million EU citizens – around 430 million to come to the UK under certain conditions which I won’t go into here and now, around 3.3 million of whom have exercised this right perfectly legitimately, and from around 65 million UK citizens, around 2 million of whom live in the EU and have exercised this right equally legitimately. Over 5 million people’s lives have been gravely jeopardised by this absolutely suicidal folly that is Brexit.
Moving the goal posts. The argument being made by this article is not that the result removes rights but that the existing rights of people were violated.
Either that’s correct or it’s not. If it’s correct then it’s also correct that rights have been violated at every step through from joining (without a vote), to staying, to every treaty and law signed by the Government.
Your argument is that it’s ok to violate people’s rights in order to give them more rights. Or to paraphrase “shut up, do as your told it’s for your own good”. That’s ridiculous and therein lies the path to authoritarianism.
By your argument it’s ok to violate your rights to free speech in order to give you the right to not be offended.
Your reply is refighting the arguments of the Referendum. It does not address the issues in this article really the alleged inadequacies of the franchise for the Referendum vote
My reply wasn’t to this article it was to your response which switched from questions about how the franchise that took us in is the same as the one that took us out to your assertion that it was ok to violate the rights of people in 1970s and after because you claim that they gained rights.
I doubt that fishermen who no longer has the right to make a living fishing in British waters we happy to trade that for the right to travel anywhere in the EU even though they could never afford to do so.
You’re right that these arguments were made by Leave supporters before the referendum. That doesn’t make them wrong.
Unless you made these arguments for every single election and referendum in your adult lifetime then this is just yet another desperate exercise in clutching at straws.
Paul I wasn’t replying to you I was replying to Nicholas I agree with what you said
And if Project Fear had been successful on June 23rd you wouldn’t have heard it then either because it was the “right” answer according to the LSE who, coincidentally, have had £14m of EU funding in the last 9 years.
Excellent article. Could a crowd funded case be brought against the Government by some of those disenfranchised in this way I wonder?
The EU are certainly getting their money’s worth of propaganda for the £14m of funding they’ve given the LSE in the last 9 years. When the EU was asked to intervene in the racist devolution policies of the British government that means the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish get free university tuition, free prescriptions, free hospital parking, etc. but the English have to pay they didn’t care. Apparently, who gets what and who gets to vote on what is an internal matter so why would they care if the franchise wasn’t extended to kids and people who aren’t UK citizens? We had the referendum, you backed the wrong horse and you lost. Suck it up and stop feeding the Remoaner trolls.
What do you mean ‘racist’ policies. If you would vote for parties and politicians that offer these benefits then you would have them. That’s what we did in Scotland. No-one forced you to vote for selfish, greedy ex-public schoolboys determined to maintain power and privilege for their own class. Stop blaming other people for your problems and try to solve them ……
He wants people to be able to vote if they are EU citizens who live here or British citizens living abroad. So essentially if you move to a different country you should get to vote twice (in your new country and old) or else it’s a denial of your human rights. People who emigrate should not get double the rights of the rest of us. What a ludicrous thought.
>The Leave campaign had a battle bus suggesting that the UK paid £350million per week to the EU without pointing out that the EU pays £283million per week back to the UK. The net outflow is £67million per week.
Not sure what arse he’s pulled this 67m figure out of because he hasn’t sourced it (who needs sources eh LSE?.) But that would be about 3.5 Billion net to the EU a year. Most figures I’ve seen put it at around 8-10 Billion. I also love his sums 350m (Vote Leave figure) – £283m (his figure) = 67m. Because the Vote Leave gross figure was rounded down for simplicity from around £355 or £360 or something, so that’s definitely inaccurate.
So sure, complain about ‘lies’ invalidating the referendum while making up your own numbers.
>”Denial of youth rights – The third group only emerged as a group in 2014.”
So because 16-18 yos got a vote in one poll in 2014 excluding them from any other poll is now a ‘violation of their human rights?’ Sure babe.
If we want to talk about lies we can talk about the lies of politicians over the last 40 years about how the EU was ‘just a trade bloc.’
If we want to talk about people having a right to vote on issues, we should talk about the Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties which no one got a vote on and which gave away our democratic rights.
Thank you for your comment. The BBC news site lists net contributions of different countries to the EU budget taking into account all income from the EU sources. This has the UK net contribution as £3.5 billions per year or about £67m per week. This is where the figure was derived from. The site itself says that the EU recognise that there are some 30 ways of doing the calculation so no doubt other sites quote other figures. I regret not including the source in the paper.
Sorry, failed to include the web address: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8036097.stm#start
The Referendum was principally about the acceptability or otherwise of continuation of growth of unelected supranational authority without democratic accountability ……about which Tim S makes a powerful point in his last sentence. A properly-conducted re-run of the Referendum (no lies or exaggerations, focus on the fundamental issue) could well swell the ranks of those without myopic naivety.
“The Leave campaign had a battle bus suggesting that the UK paid £350million per week to the EU without pointing out that the EU pays £283million per week back to the UK. The net outflow is £67million per week. Further posters displayed the suggestion that the same £350million every week could, instead, be given to the NHS if the UK were to leave the EU. That was a gross lie and the country would be bankrupting itself if it attempted to do so.”
Great article, very well written. However, the last half of the last sentence of the quote above is wrong. increasing the spending on the NHS would not bankrupt the country. That would be less than half the £11 billion the UK government did add to the NHS budget (before they started privatising it) and in any case, the government prints its own money. It would have to spend hundreds of billions more to even dent the value of the Pound – although every silliness uttered by Mrs May undermines it far more quickly.
The actions of the current government of the UK are Totalitarian in character and deed!
Countries have established rules for conducting elections. These were not altered for the EU ref. Yet despite the ref enjoying a greater level of public engagement than just about any recent election, the author singles it out as illegitimate.
All sides in all elections lie / stretch the truth.Yet one side one one election is highlighted here.
The idea that rerunning the vote would restore faith in democracy is turning reality on its head. Why do politicians in parliament, far and away pro Remain, now in the main accept the vote to leave? Rerunning elections when they don’t go the way you hoped (with the limits on press freedom you suggest are needed) is associated with undemocratic nations across the world.
Remain or Brexit is not the issue. The divide now comes down to accepting democracy and using it to argue for what you want, or arguing that democracy does not work (for you) and what follows from that. In a democracy parties can argue to widen the franchise, lower the voting age, open the borders, back protection, back free trade …… that is where you should make your arguments.
As the saying goes. “I change my mind, when the fact change”.
as can be seen by normal elections and re-run referenda in other countries.
Democracy did not work for me because I am one of those that was not allowed a vote in the referendum. And I’m sure that many of the others who were excluded feel equally miffed (to use a very mild word).
Sorry Adrian, but you’ve got it all wrong (I write as a reluctant remainer) and I hope you do not clog the courts up with this time-wasting.
Taking the ex-pats first, the 15 year cut off is extremely generous, there’s no reason to allow for more than one electoral cycle, say five years plus a bit for admin.
Under-18s: most 18 year olds are still some way off actually working for a living. In many ways they are far more immature than when the voting age was dropped from 21. There is a case for a special concession for a referendum but the government were quite within their rights not to make an exception. There’s no denial of human rights here.
You’ve made the EU residents v Commonwealth citizens situation more complicated than it is. Commonwealth citizens including of Republic of Ireland are (rightly) entitled to vote here given that we (Britain) sought to rule them for so long. It’s not a denial of human rights to have different electoral rolls and for parliament to decide on the criteria for being included. The government, who, lets remember were in favour of a Remain vote, took a balanced view in choosing the General Election roll, which could be said to favour voters with long-standing and commitment to this country.
By the way, you’ve said nothing about one group that also was partially disenfranchised: those voters who move frequently, often including younger voters. There needs to be a fair way to include them. Nor did you mention increasing concerns about fraudulent or corrupt voting, especially through increased use of postal voting.
Ref my submitted Comment……sorry…..Ihave now ticked the boxes
The author confuses and conflates ‘national origin’ and ‘citizenship’.
The 48% know that the 52% have got it wrong. No harm in them continuing to point that out especially as their rights of Citizenship have been diminished. Rather the right to vote in an EU election than become a colony of the US and lose our health service to a bunch of financial wheeler dealers.
The 52% want a free country. We now have to fight for a good, clean Brexit and then for a nationalized NHS (Tories and Blairite Labour bent on privatizing it).
i think you are wrong about Expats.
Americans French and German citizen have votes for life.
Why should i be denbied my legitimate right to vote becuase i live Abroad.
Im denied the right to vote where i live so in effect totally without a say in anything.
Brexit effects me heavily . I wasnt asked if i wanted to leave the EU and i think EVERY ex-pat has the right to feel aggrieved and tbh its totally against what we faught for in 2 World Wars……….
I served my country but denied my right to vote ist that what democracy is about?
Below am extract from a letter I received from Tory MEP Dr. Charles Tannock summarising this very well.
Never in our history have we had three million people living permanently in Britain who are disenfranchised from participating in the national election. One of the justifications made to grant long-term resident Commonwealth and Irish citizens the vote in the past is precisely to avoid the situation in which we find ourselves today whereby three million long-term EU residents have no say in either the election of a national government, or as we have found out to our regret, in the Brexit Referendum, even though they are directly impacted by its outcome which I deeply regret as a strong Remainer.
Dr Charles Tannock MEP
London office of Dr. Charles Tannock MEP
4 Greyhound Road
London W6 8NX
Quite right Dr Charles Tannock, and you can add the over 2 million UK citizens living abroad for over 15 years who were also disfranchised. And are DIRECTLY affected as they, contrary to the majority of UK citizens living in the UK, are directly affected by the result, in their personal lives. How many of the famous 52% actually have EVER exercised the rights they had and that they so gaily strip away from the rest of us?
Mark A in this thread alludes to the whole electorate being unremittingly stupid. Well, not the whole electorate but the ones who did not agree with him. Steve Moore tells us that this was “totally against what we fought for in two world wars”.
Firstly, although it’s reasonable to say that a proportion of Leave voters could be classed as “less educated” people, unless Mark can provide empirical evidence to state that all university educated people in the U.K. voted remain, it’s a naive argument. Eminent individuals with solid educational backgrounds and a real grasp of the issues -I’d argue a stronger grasp than Mark- like Jacob Rees Mogg voted leave. He has an Eton and Oxford background. Stupid? Also Marks post has a tinge of bitterness running through it that reflects badly.
All leavers are stupid? Is that the argument of an educated man?
Steve is very wrong to link the two world wars to this. I also served and I’ve not met many serving personnel that believe BREXIT is a bad thing. Our war dead did not die for the EU, Its insulting and disengenuous. The EU did not exist so it’s ridiculous to suggest people died for it, and that is what he is broadly suggesting.
There is an argument that we’ve been in the EU since 1973 too, that is misdirection. We joined the EEC, a totally different proposition based on friendly convenient trade. The constitution itself has increased its powers.
This brings me to the original post. When making a case for democracy the author should have included undemocratic actions of the EU. He didn’t.
The single most powerful entity currently controlling our lives has amassed enormous powers over the electorate without referenda. it tried, but the people of Holland, France and Ireland said “no” so the EU decided to never again allow the people a vote. Ireland refused the Lisbon Treaty and it HAD to have full member approval. The EU told Ireland it had to comply, Ireland didn’t so the EU ratified the treaty anyway by changing rules.
The EU is the most undemocratic institution in the civilised West. This country decided to put the whole thing to a vote and it seems to me the very people in this thread who purport to support democracy are actually against it. You seem to have the EU version, “if the vote goes against us, ignore it and go again until we win”.
That is undemocratic and that is exactly the sort of thing the people who died to protect you all in World Wars died for.
I am a Brit resident in Germany for > 15 years. I am registered to vote in local and European elections in my German home. I was not legible to vote in the referendum despite the consequences of it directly impacting my life. I have no desire to vote in UK General Elections – as I am no longer resident I don’t feel that I should have a say in day-to-day life in the UK. I am also not allowed to vote in German national elections – simply because I do not hold German citizenship despite paying tax here. The rules were clear on who could vote in the referendum before it ran – I lobbied my ex-MP (and others) to bring the Votes for Life legislation forward. Sadly, it is still not incorporated into law. So far, I have seen little action from the Foreign Office that brings emmigrants into the debate. Not all of us are entitled to or want to take a second citizenship.
Soo desperate to win a referendum they would allow gullible 16 to 18 year olds to vote on the future of the country when most of them probably could not name more than three MPs because they are not on reality TV. If you leave a country to set up a new life abroad you have made a decision that you really don’t want to be a citizen there so why the hell should you have a vote. As for EU citizens living in this country having a vote, well which way would you expect them to vote, let me guess? Voting to leave would be like turkeys voting for Christmas dooooh.
Two comments.Firstly , Brexit seems to be pushed ahead rapidly with no regard to the British legal system,I have always said that”I smell a rat there somewhere and soon we will discover what that rat is.Secondly, why didn’t the E.U.flood the voters with information on how the E.U. truly works and what the social and economic out- come would be following a Brexit as per the E.U.rules.
I voted Remain, however I think these arguments are pretty tenuous.
First of all, the argument that residents were being denied voting rights due to their nationality as citizens of Commonwealth countries resident in the UK were allowed to vote isn’t strictly true. There is a ‘Commonwealth Citizenship’ defined by the British Nationality Act 1981. So suffrage was not unequally granted based on nationality, but along the usual lines of citizens can vote and everyone else cannot. It is just that who is considered a citizen and what rights it confers is convoluted in British nationality law. Citizens of Commonwealth Countries were legally British subjects until this law was passed and whilst the terminology was changed by the law, the fact that these people are de jure citizens of the UK whilst resident here is enshrined in laws passed by the sovereign British parliament in an act defining membership of the British citizenry. I say this as a first-generation immigrant whose family were denied the right to vote because they are merely residents (although I am a UK citizen) and a citizenship scholar.
Also, one cannot argue that residents should be able to vote whilst at the same arguing against the denial of voting rights to expats based on the fact that the 15-year timeframe is arbitrary (because so is the time period qualification for residency) or just in general because the forfeiture of voting rights in your home country is something all UK expats are aware of and take into consideration before becoming expats. They chose voluntarily to abstain from the vote via the act of expatriating. I feel you could almost be onto something with this argument but the arguments you have used here are conceptually incongruous.
As for the age argument, the UK has only one sovereign legislature. This is not a vertically federal state, but a unitary state. The status of the devolved parliaments and local authorities is contingent on Westminster not abolishing them. As such, they are actually informal institutions and election rules similarly flexible. When it comes to the only elections that are held for a sovereign body, general elections, we have one set of rules and they are fairly and equally applied. Desiring people from the age of 16 to be able to vote is simply a normative opinion.
As for the point about misleading campaigns, I think this is absolutely nonsensical. Every election in every country ever has been won without honesty. If we start using this as a criterion, we are on a very slippery slope. Also, the argument is utterly patronising. If the information is out there for you to know that someone was trying to dupe you, then it was there for everybody. Voters are not misinformed by their politicians, they are misinformed because they do not have the gumption to go out and do their own research and form their own opinions outside of what is spoon-fed to them by political campaigns. Sadly, there can be no ‘intelligence/being informed’ requirement for voting and if people are not healthily sceptical of everything their leaders tell them and diligent enough to do their own research and to know what sources are reputable, then that is just how it goes. Nor can there be a truth requirement for campaigns as you would need an ‘arbiter of truth’, something which is ontologically impossible.
Although I question your arguments, I do thank you for the post. I have not really heard anyone making these arguments yet and I enjoyed the novel and stimulating approach, as well as the challenge of thinking through and analysing the ideas you presented here.
I should have been able to vote but because of failed paperwork which some how never arrived, I was not allowed to do so ..Like so many Expats in Germany France and in my case Bulgaria ..Im a UK citizen Born there ..No one wants to look at the 1000 s of voting papers that never arrived ..Ive Just had a letter from Northumberland CC stating ..as I now had not returned my re reg papers I no longer on their list and cannot vote ..First Ive hear of having to re Reg ? .No letter told me this …Why cannot this be done online ..They have my email address ..Why post important letters abroad that never reach the people concerned ..
Why cannot we vote at our Embassies … Bulgarians abroad do this.?
The question is, can anyone still sue over all of this?
Your opening salvo tries to pit the blame at late polling – a feature of any national voting exercise – for the complacency of one side of the vote.
You then go on to try an claim that anyone who happens to be resident – purely by virtue of the duress the country is under legally to allow the residency in the first place – should be able to vote equally alongside those who have inherited or gone to the trouble of becoming an actual citizen.
Next up is just more lamenting of how the vote could’ve been swung the other way ‘if only’…
No doubt this topic couldn’t be further from your mind had the vote gone the way you wanted it to.
You are part of the problem holding the country back from being able to move forward under it’s own systems of governance – for the ultimate benefit of the voters you are crying over into the future.
I am a UK national resident in Luxembourg and I am over the 15-year limit. I am able to vote in local elections and European Parliament elections in Luxembourg, but NOT Luxembourg national elections (priviliege reserved for Luxembourg citizens). I am therefore not able to vote in NATIONAL elections in EITHER the country where I live OR in my country of origin.
If that’s not disfranchisement, tell me what is. Some countries allow prisoners to vote – does that mean law-abiding UK expatriates deserve less rights than those prisoners?
The cut-off point for expatriates was originally 5 years, later raised to 20 and then cut back again to 15 years. This is totally arbitrary: should so basic a citizen’s right be subject to governments pulling a number out of a hat?
Brexit means I am very likely to lose my existing rights to vote in local and European Parliament elections. No-one has promised I will keep those rights. If that is the case, you cannot tell me Brexit is irrelevant to my rights simply because I live in another EU member state.
Do the commenters who think expatriates don’t deserve the vote believe or not in ‘one person, one vote’? When we are talking about almost 1 million cases of ‘one person, no vote’? – not to mention UK citizens living outside the EU, who would also be affected by Brexit should they ever wish to return to the UK or move to Europe?
I believe it is obvious that I was denied the vote on an issue that affects me directly.
Christopher Rollason is absolutely right. All of us in the same situation (probably at least 2 million despite “official” statistics) plus another 2 million UK citizens outside the EU, have been DELIBERATELY CHEATED OF OUR FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS. We are DIRECTLY affected and have not been able to have any say in the matter.
The author of this piece is shockingly ignorant.
IN 2008, the ECHR ruled the timebar on British citizens living outside the UK was not a breach of their human rights regarding taking part in elections.
For an academic to bbe ignorant of this is truly shocking.
Also,in referring to the Scottish referendum, the author appears not to know that Salmond deliberately prevented Scottish born people living outside Scotland from voting in the referendum because he feared they would vote to remain in the Union.
All logic, common sense, and ‘education’ goes out of the window when remoaners bang on about how due to brexit their future was stolen/cheated from them.
What they fail to see, the simple fact that you can still emigrate to europe, but you must have employment, an address, and have a mastering of the local language to be employable on the job market (unless you decided you wanted to go over to bum there) what i would expect from anyone migrating to the uk. Shame the Australian migration policy wasnt adopted- job on skills in demand list, full crb check, full medical, deportation in case of a breach of the 1958 migration act -section 501.but no-the doors were thrown upen to all and sundry, no quali/quanti. Just wide open immigration. Honestly, only jack the ripper would have been refused entry.
The way I see it, the UK Government led by David Cameron, tried to bully the EU into reducing our contributions and increasing our grants from them. They also did not like the EU Human rights and other EU laws. Cameron threatened the EU with a UK referendum if they did not meet his demands. The EU called his bluff, go and have a referendum, as we cannot meet your demands. So, the government under Cameron, imposed a referendum on the people of the UK, without any guiding information as to it’s consequences. We in the UK are only just starting to pay the price of Cameron’s decision . We have already given the rest of the World a 25% discount on all our company shares, due to the so predictable fall in the value of the pound.
We are already talking of sending our beef to China instead of the EU. Where will it end. Civil war?
-copy/paste australian migration policy. Brexit would have never happened and it would been mission accomplished today.
Is someone going to try option 4?
put it this way, my experience..
myself i lived in Paris for 19 years 1987-2006.
i worked, paid taxes , learnt the language to a high level enabling me to achieve high end jobs.
when i returned to the uk, i was never too bothered about the possibility of the UK leaving the EU- it was implausible, thus i decided not to bother with uk voting, or registering etc.
I never demanded French citizenship either as in 1995 you could work on a uk passport as i did.
I decided, through real world experience, that in theory the EU was good but the reality wasnt, and not the direction i believed the UK should head, so i emigrated to Australia.
– now the referendum has been taken by brexit, i see that i can no longer go and live easily in the country (france) that i had lived in for 19 years. Because of brexit, but myself i was for brexit.
as i had been in Europe for over a decade, it is correct to assume that you have no close links with the country. I forfeited the right to vote, and i forfeited the right to return and live in france easily, as you will have to jump through hoops to get residency, a titre de sejour, job in a country with a 18% unemployment rate (real that is, not fudged macroni ones).
I accept that i forfeited these advantages, and the fact that i will be on the same level as any other blow in, who decides to ‘go live in France’ but the referendum was won by leave, end of story.
– no amount of retiree, pensioner in spain, expat with plum job in Europe cajoling will change the decision, or obtain a rerun of the referendum.
-the bullet has left the gun, you can’t put it back in.
– when you finally accept it (likely the day after leaving or a shortwhile thereafter) then you will make some headway in your lives, and minds.
until then its remoaniam ad infini.
Well, today is the day that the UK will start to reap the seed it has sown…..
I am one of the disenfranchised who is barred from voting in National Elections in Germany (where I have lived for 20yrs), debarred from voting in the referendum in 2016 and very seriously ****** off.
Today (Jan 15th, 2019), depending on what comes next, could see the rights of ex-pats all over Europe, lose their rights as EU citizens. It seems that this is not the case in Germany, where after this many years, I am entitled to the same rights as German Nationals (with respect to access / redress to the ECJ). If the idiot UK Govt leads the UK to crash out with no-deal, then technically, all rights will be cancelled as we will no longer be EU Citizens (though I am assured this will not affect my rights in Germany), I sincerely hope similar rights exist in other EU Countries for the UK Ex-Pats living there too.
Should this all pan out to our disadvantage, then it should be a wake up call to all ex-Pats, to organise ourselves and work together to start campaigning for proper changes to award us the same Human Rights as those of Citizens of the UK (which many of still are)….
20 years? It takes 5 residency and a test to get citizenship. The fault lies where?
I see from these many, often wise and enlightened comments that we are all divided in our leanings and opinions which proves that we need more information and financial facts before another, more informed decision is made-by all eligible people.
I myself, as a Community Support Worker, potentially, have had my working day improved by the EU work directive. Although my firm doesn’t observe it, we are supposed to have 11 hours rest at night now (it is usually 9 though.) As a result of a case in Spain we have all mileage paid as our home is now recognised as our workplace. We do not get paid for waiting around. Despite our “home being our workplace,” we do not get travel time to and from our first and last call 4 shifts a day (that is usually many 15 mile journeys a day for me, unpaid,) which means that we get far below the minimum wage. The unions are pressing for this to happen as well as an itemised payslip. My concern is that my firm is waiting for Brexit so they wont even have to implement this ruling.