Brexit: Millions were denied a vote

Jon Danzig |

The Conservatives 2015 manifesto promised ‘votes for life’ for all Britons living abroad – in line with other major democracies, such as the USA, France, Italy, and Canada.

Britons who’d been living abroad for more than 15 years weren’t allowed to vote in UK elections. But the Tories pledged to change that.

Those Britons abroad – estimated to be 3.4 million – had expected to vote in the EU referendum to be held just a year later.

But the government broke its promise, claiming there wasn’t time to implement votes for those Brits in the referendum.

Poppycock. If there was time to organise a referendum, there was time to facilitate votes for all Britons living abroad.

After all, many of those Brits were directly affected by the outcome of the referendum – they had been living across the EU under EU citizenship rights and had expected their status to be safe. It was a travesty of democracy that those Britons were denied a vote in the referendum.

Earlier this year the government announced that ‘votes for life’ would now, at last, be available to all Britons living abroad.

Too late. They were excluded from the referendum in which they’d been promised a say but at the last minute were shut out.

Similarly, around three million EU nationals living, working, settled, and paying taxes in the UK were denied a vote in the referendum, even though they were directly affected by the outcome.

Whatever happened to ‘no taxation without representation’?

Those EU citizens were making a massive NET contribution to the UK’s Treasury and economy. They were helping Britain to be successful. Yet they were refused a vote in the referendum.

Scotland had allowed EU citizens living there to vote in their 2014 independence referendum, so why couldn’t all EU citizens living across the UK also have a say in the 2016 referendum that directly and fundamentally affected their futures?

Over 6 million extra voters in the EU referendum WOULD have made a difference.

Whenever I run this story, Brexiters clamour to tell me that ONLY Britons were allowed to vote in the EU referendum, and rightly so.

Another poppycock!

Citizens from over 70 nations with ‘leave-to-remain’ in the UK were entitled to vote in the EU referendum because they were from Britain’s old Commonwealth. But most European Union nationalities living in the UK had no such entitlement.

The franchise on who could vote in the referendum had more to do Britain’s colonial past than its future as a European country.

(See my article about this from 2015: The EU referendum: Who can cannot vote)

And I haven’t even mentioned 16-to-17-year-olds who also had a vote in Scotland’s independence referendum but not the UK’s EU referendum.

Of course, we can’t change the past. What’s done is done. But we could change the future. And to do that, it’s essential that we understand the past and what’s gone wrong.

  • Only a minority voted for Brexit – watch 2-minute video

  • Why we need a new vote on Brexit – watch 1-minute video:

  • How Brexit sidelined MPs  – Watch 1½-minute video

  • EU referendum broke ‘rules’ set by former Brexit Secretary – Watch 5-minute video

  • What Cameron could have done after the referendum – Watch 2-minute video

  • Why the referendum was fatally flawed – 1-minute video

  • Was the referendum advisory only? – Watch 1-minute video

  • Many were denied a vote. Watch 1-minute video

  • The 114 MPs who voted against triggering Brexit – Watch 24-minute video


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