High Court Brexit vote judgment ignores and insults UK expats

Published:  29 Apr at 6 PM
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The judgment handed down by the High Court regarding the right to vote in the upcoming Brexit referendum both ignores and insults British citizens who have chosen to exercise their entitlement to free movement within the EU.

Although the case will now go directly to appeal at the Supreme Court, yesterday’s decision simply fuels the fires of uncertainty and fear across expat communities in Eu member states. Comments made by the judges disregarded the possible plight of expats, with those still unable to cast their votes the worst affected.

The case also ignores the rights of thousands of British citizens living and working outside the EU, as they were unrepresented in court and will be denied the vote even if the appeal is successful. The shocking court statement that, should free movement be a thing of the past, the decision would be ‘objectively justified’ is another indication of the government’s total lack of concern for its citizens overseas.

Traditionally, Brits have emigrated all over the world, taking with them British values and expertise. The majority, including early retirees, have kept their attachment to and contacts with the UK through family and friends who regularly visit and through worldwide social media.

Many may decide the arbitrary comment that 15 years away is, by definition, a lack of interest in the home country is an insult at best. Surveys show the bulk of expats living overseas will vote to stay in the EU – common sense would allow all expats to vote and would probably ensure a rejection of Brexit. Is this all about Cameron losing face by not repealing the discriminatory rule as promised in his election manifesto?

Should Brexit happen, all entitlements expats receive as EU citizens will be rescinded and subject to renegotiation. Even now, large numbers are returning to the UK due to Brexit fears. Many prefer to face returning now rather than enduring two years of uncertainty ending in forced repatriation at the worst or severe financial deprivation at best.

At present, 72,000 Brits have left Spain, 7,000 have quit Italy and the chairman of the British Community Committee of France reports that Brits enjoying early retirement in France are in a state of panic. In the event of a Brexit, Brits working in EU countries will become immigrants with no immediate right to a long-term visa.

The mess as regards who can and who cannot vote has highlighted the plight of Britons who chose to exercise free choice as to their location and have built lifestyles overseas. This choice does not entitle the UK government to ignore their citizenship rights, nor does it entitle government lawyers to belittle them by suggesting UK citizens overseas do not care about their home country.
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