The EU referendum puts our free movement rights at risk. Everyone affected must have a vote

One of the most positive aspects of the #LibDemFightback since May has been the enthusiasm among our influx of new members to fight for a Yes vote in the forthcoming EU referendum.  A recent survey found this was their number one reason (quoted by 84%) for joining the party. With the government gearing up for a vote as early as June next year, there is no doubt that Liberal Democrats must play a central role, both in the campaign and – crucially – the passage of the Referendum Bill, which defines the question, timetable, and franchise.

Incredibly though, the government looks set on excluding from the referendum the very people whose lives will be most directly affected by the result. Britain is now home to around 2.4 million citizens from other EU countries – who are, incidentally, among those who contribute most to our economy and society. Meanwhile, an estimated 2.2 million British citizens live in other EU countries. Both groups owe their residence to the free movement rights which stem directly from EU citizenship – yet under current plans, neither will have an automatic say in the referendum which will determine where they are allowed to live and work.

This could lead to the disgraceful scenario whereby millions of people who have come to our country in good faith lose their residence rights and are forced to leave Britain (or move back) against their will, as a result of a referendum in which they were barred from voting. Without even entering into the merits of a yes or a no vote, it is hard to think of a less fair or democratic way of making fundamental decisions about how people are allowed to live their lives.

Add to this the fact that some EU citizens will actually have a vote (the Maltese and Cypriots – by virtue of their membership of the Commonwealth – as well as the Irish), and the situation becomes absurd. Similarly, only Brits living in another EU country for less than 15 years will be eligible to vote, while the rest will be denied this right. Ironically (or tragically), the government has itself proposed a ‘Votes for Life’ Bill to let all expats vote in perpetuity at general elections – but only plan to bring this forward after the referendum. In the EU referendum, it seems, some votes are more equal than others.

Liberal Democrats must expose this travesty of democracy and fight for all those most affected by the EU referendum to have an equal vote, including – it goes without saying – those aged 16-18, who will have to live with the consequences longer than most of us. At conference next month, we will debate a motion on the EU referendum. If you’re a voting rep and would like to back my amendment extending the franchise to all EU citizens in the UK and all UK citizens in the EU, please get in touch.

* Giles Goodall is a Lib Dem European Parliamentary Candidate for South East England.

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62 Comments

  • Richard Stallard 21st Aug '15 - 12:12pm

    Oh dear – getting worried about the referendum result, are we?
    Don’t worry – if we give the wrong answer, your beloved eu will simply make us vote again (and again!) until we give the right one.

  • As lovely as the idea is, this idea would be seen as utterly illegitimate. In just the same way that it would be illegitimate for a bunch of Westerners to try and rig the elections in Chad by moving their before the vote. The citizens of the UK are the ultimate source of legitimacy for all sovereign power there.

    If people want to have a say, they must become full participants in our civic community, not just visitors. And that means citizenship. I’m very keen that we work hard with all migrant communities to allow them to do this. But that is the fight the Lib Dems should pick.

    Rather than undermine the legitimacy of our elections, we should instead bring as many people into their communities with education and integration efforts.

  • If you wanted an example of why the public view politicians and politics, as ‘not to be trusted’, then this article is it.
    An utter electoral failure in May 2014, and again in May 2015, would have taught some politicians, to re-think their attitude to voters. Clearly some politicians can neither learn nor adapt, and are hardwired to stick with the contemptuous manipulation strategy, that voters despise?
    It’s also strange that you have a sudden regard for 16 to 18’s, when a mere few months ago, you had no regard for the wishes of *all* voters under age 56, who if it were left to LD’s anti-referendum stance, would have had no say on their future?
    10/10 for cynicism Giles.

  • Rebecca Taylor 21st Aug '15 - 1:22pm

    @Adam, it appears you didn’t read the article very carefully. VOTING IN THE EU REFERENDUM IS NOT RESTRICTED TO UK CITIZENS. Non UK citizens resident in the UK from all commonwealth countries plus Ireland can vote. This means among others a Pakistani, Canadian or Malaysian citizen can legally move to the UK tomorrow, register to vote and be able to vote in the EU referendum, but an EU citizen (not from Ireland, Cyprus or Malta) will NOT be able to vote even if they’ve been living in the UK, paying taxes and contributing to society for 30 years. Regardless of your view on the referendum this situation seems neither fair nor logical.

    If you are concerned about people moving to the UK just to vote (an act so unlikely I have literally never heard anyone else mention it!), then a simple residency requirement could be introduced, perhaps requiring 3 or 5 years residence? That would solve one of your concerns.

    As you obviously disapprove of non UK citizens being able to vote in the EU referendum and currently a few million will have the right to do so, presumably you’ll be campaigning to change the rules? I look forward to hearing about your campaign : )

  • Morwen Millson 21st Aug '15 - 1:44pm

    Another serious concern is the future of reciprocal health care. Millions of British people visit other EU countries every year and take for granted their right to health care at the same cost as local residents. This will be at serious risk if we leave the EU.

  • “Millions of British people visit other EU countries every year and take for granted their right to health care at the same cost as local residents.”
    No, they don’t take it for granted, we pay for it in our taxes. They present their EHIC card, and the European country fixing your broken leg send the NHS the bill. And there’s no need to change that system, even after we Brexit?

    “This means among others a Pakistani, Canadian or Malaysian citizen can legally move to the UK tomorrow, register to vote and be able to vote in the EU referendum,..”
    But the Pakistani, Canadian or Malaysian citizen cannot just turn up here ad hoc, in the same way as an EU citizen can?

  • Simon Horner 21st Aug '15 - 2:17pm

    Take the situation of a couple living and working in the UK where one partner is Mozambican and the other Portuguese (I guess there must be a few examples!) The former has a say in our European future while the latter does not.
    An arrangement that excludes our fellow EU citizens from 24 member states, while giving the vote to people from three of these countries and around 50 others across the world (from Canada to Cameroon to Vanuatu), is a legal absurdity.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Aug '15 - 2:19pm

    Rebecca Taylor makes a very good point about Commonwealth citizens who are resident being allowed to vote, but not EU ones.

    Honestly, if I had my way I would scrap expat votes completely and give everyone who is a proper resident of the UK a vote. It seems fair – you live here and are not in prison (at least) then you can vote and if you leave you cannot.

    We have a lot of taxpaying citizens now denied voting rights. It needs to change. I know people will say “what does it matter if they pay taxes or not” – but I think it is useful to get the point across – why can’t they decide how their money is spent and have a say on the country’s laws?

  • Alfred Motspur 21st Aug '15 - 2:29pm

    We should also make careful note that EU nationals living in the UK *already* have the power to influence the relationship between the UK and the EU through the European Elections, in which they can be enfranchised as voters in the UK.

    I struggle to see why, therefore, EU nationals living in the UK shouldn’t have a say on whether to continue Britain’s membership of the EU in this referendum, when they can *already* influence the relationship every four years at the polling stations.

  • Alfred Motspur 21st Aug '15 - 2:30pm

    *five years

  • An arrangement that excludes our fellow EU citizens from 24 member states

    But the whole question at issue is whether we want to be ‘fellow EU citizens’ or not!

    To use ‘fellow EU citizens’ in the set-up is begging the question.

    We have a lot of taxpaying citizens now denied voting rights

    Surely we don’t. Surely every citizen can vote.

    We may have taxpaying residents denied voting rights, but that’s a different thing.

    I wouldn’t expect to be able to just move to another country and immediately, automatically, be able to vote in all their elections as if I were a citizen.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Aug '15 - 2:48pm

    John Dunn 21st Aug ’15 – 12:53pm Extending voting to 16 year olds has been Liberal Democrat policy for decades. The Tories agreed to it for the hugely important referendum in Scotland and then denied it to the same people in the general election unless they had reached 18 years of age.
    Between 2010 and 2015 Labour MPs had several opportunities to vote for reducing the voting age to 16, but repeatedly refused to do so, having been in government with an overall majority for 13 years.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Aug '15 - 2:50pm

    Dav, there are EU citizens who have been here for 10 years who cannot vote. Problem is the voting rules aren’t communicated properly and it sometimes involves giving up their previous passport, which for some people who still have family elsewhere and don’t know what the future holds is a bit of a risk, especially if the UK votes to leave the EU and their home country only accepts people back who have kept their passport.

    Regards

  • Dav, there are EU citizens who have been here for 10 years who cannot vote

    Yes, and there are doubtless Russian citizens and US citizens and Mexican citizens and syrian citizens and so on too. Everybody’s a citizen of somewhere; when you start talking about voting in British elections I kind of assumed you meant <i.British citizens, rather than foreign citizens.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Aug '15 - 3:02pm

    John Dunn 21st Aug ’15 – 12:53pm Citizens of other EU member states can come and go, they therefore do not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Enter or Remain (ILE or ILR). which is a stepping stone to to UK citizenship, on payment of a fee and after approval.
    Citizens of some states who are permanently resident here cannot apply for UK citizenship if their other country does not allow dual nationality, including Nepalese Ghurkas who have fought corageously for the UK. Honours include Victoria Crosses.

  • (The whole point of the referendum being that the EU is not (yet) a federal super-state such that ‘citizenship’ means the same sort of thing as, say, federal US citizenship does, with ‘British citizen’ being merely a sub-type of ‘EU citizen’; and that we would rather like to get off the conveyor before it moves any farther in the direction of that super-state being a reality).

  • Citizens of some states who are permanently resident here cannot apply for UK citizenship if their other country does not allow dual nationality

    Of course they can. Their other country may require them to give up their citizenship if the take UK citizenship as well, but to my knowledge the UK is perfectly fine with its citizens also being citizens of any other country.

    But you can’t blame the UK for the policies of other countries.

  • This reads as yet another attempt at vote rigging; namely, trying to get sufficient turkeys registered to vote, so that the vote for Christmas has a greater chance of going the way some parties would like…

    As for what might happen if there is a decision to exit the EU, that currently is in the realms of speculation and hence the scenario’s given here are pure FUD.

    With respect to the (mock) concern over votes for 16~18 year old’s, my children, being significantly younger, will have to live the consequences longer than the 16~18 year old’s, so how is it proposed that these will be given an equal vote?

    I write as someone who didn’t vote in 1975; just like everyone under the age of 58, who have grow up with the consequences of this vote.

    No the ‘In’/’Yes’ campaign needs to improve, which given recent events such as the Greece bailout and a public acknowledgement by key EU members that the EU will need to change, I would think there are sufficient glimmers of light to encourage many to keep with the project for a while longer.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Aug '15 - 3:24pm

    Dav, it should be like the tax system – the only thing that really matters is residence. Whether you hold a passport or not should only be a matter of administration.

    My opinion anyway. Plus it is simple and clear. Votes and taxes for residents and none for expats. State pensions should also be protected for expats, but we shouldn’t just give the vote to everyone.

    I would rather a proper review of voting rights, rather than something that, as Roland and others suggest, could be seen as a way to “rig” the vote.

  • it should be like the tax system – the only thing that really matters is residence

    But that’s not how the tax system works! You are liable to, for instance, income tax on all income earned in the UK — regardless of where you are resident.

    So if you are resident in, say, Canada, but you fly in to the UK a couple of days a month to do some consultancy work, you have to pay UK tax on that income — even though you are not resident in the UK.

    Residency has nothing to do with tax!

    How can you expect to be taken seriously when you say something should ‘be like the tax system’ if you clearly don’t even understand hwow the tax system works?!

  • It always amuses me that Europhobes assume that anything they don’t like (like the landfill tax, bans on smoking, sausages with actual meat in them) will disappear as soon as we leave the EU, so things that they DO like such as EHIC cards and easy access to free healthcare when living in a villa in Spain will just continue!

    The fact that the number of citizens of other EU countries living in the Uk is only 200,000 out of 2.4 million more than the number of British citizens living in the rest of the EU is also one of those things never heard from the lips of a Eurosceptic (who prefer to think of “swarms” “plagues” or “countless numbers” of Romanians living next to them…)

    Returning to the subject of the article, I think personally that it would be quite reasonable to restrict voting EITHER to British citizens over the age of 16, wherever in the world they happen to be living, OR to all people who have been living and working in the UK for more than 5 years (but not people who have been living and working abroad for > 5 years)

    But what we have instead is a typical Tory dog’s breakfast of random and not-so-random unfairness….

  • Richard Stallard 21st Aug '15 - 3:47pm

    “Non UK citizens resident in the UK from all commonwealth countries plus Ireland can vote.”

    Of course they can – the Commonwealth is part of the British ‘family’, being:
    “A voluntary association of independent and equal sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the common interests of our peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace, and influencing international society to the benefit of all through the pursuit of common principles and values.”

    As opposed to the eu which is intent on imposing its will and destroying nations.

  • Dav,

    I think you are guilty of a gross oversimplification of the tax system there! We certainly have a large number of British citizens who find it convenient to be “resident” in countries like Luxembourg in order to avoid paying UK tax. Meanwhile while I was resident in (and paid in) France for two months I ended up paying UK income tax on top of a large number of French taxes! (because I was not rich enough to sort things out more to my advantage..)

  • Richard Underhill 21st Aug '15 - 3:53pm

    Dav 21st Aug ’15 – 3:07pm i apologise if my phrasing was inexact. Nepal is not a member of the Commonwealth. Our armed forces have tended to recruit male Ghurkas for military service . Initially the concept is that they were on short term contracts and would return to Nepal at the end of their service. If the home country does not allow dual nationality, many people are reluctant to give up that part of their identity. There are large numbers of people permanently and legally resident in the UK for decades. If they wish to go on holiday the UK provides a travel document, which is not a UK passport. If they are recognised refugees the travel document will be usually barred to the country from which they fled. If they visit that country they risk having their refugee status in the UK withdrawn, which might affect their status as UK residents.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Aug '15 - 3:58pm

    Dav, I used to be a tax adviser with about half my clients non UK citizens, so I know what I am talking about on this. Most countries have anti double taxation agreements with the UK so in effect what mostly matters is residence.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Aug '15 - 4:11pm

    Richard Stallard 21st Aug ’15 – 3:47pm What destroyed nations was World War 2.
    Please see this week’s edition of “Who do you think you are?”
    Polish people hid Jews because they knew that Slavs would be next.
    Vichy France deported Jewish children to Germany although the Nazis had not asked for them

  • Alex Macfie 21st Aug '15 - 4:47pm

    “EU nationals living in the UK *already* have the power to influence the relationship between the UK and the EU through the European Elections”

    No, European elections don’t have anything to do with the relationship between the UK and the EU. They elect representatives to a parliament that makes decisions for the EU as a whole.

  • @Rebecca Taylor: of course non-citizens of all stripes should be unable to vote. I won’t campaign on it as it’s hardly the most pressing concern, but obviously I disapprove of giving any non-citizen the vote.

    The commonwealth is a bit of a special case. Canada is so like the UK (and the UK is so unlike France) that it seems utterly reasonable to give Canadians an expedited process to citizenship, they are used to what they need to do to live in the UK. Ditto most of the commonwealth. But this hardly suggests that someone who is not a full participant in civil society should be able to vote.

  • Alfred Motspur 21st Aug '15 - 5:59pm

    Alex, of course you’re right, and I should’ve worded myself better, but I hope that you can appreciate the underlying point that EU nationals living in the UK can already vote on EU matters as UK residents. Some justification could be found from this slant that they should also have the vote on UK matters – specifically with regards to the EU – as UK residents.

    Besides, whilst you’re right in saying that European elections have little to do with the UK’s relationship with the EU, it’s somewhat debatable as to what extent this is perceived to be the case. UKIP certainly was quite happy to pitch the last EU elections as a referendum on EU membership; the Liberal Democrats’ own manifesto ran the line: “your choice is simple: do you think Britain is better off in Europe or do you want us out of it?”

    Whilst it’s true that the European elections have little do with the UK’s relationship with the EU, that certainly wasn’t the attitude of the last election. Is this relevant? I think potentially.

  • jedibeeftrix 21st Aug '15 - 8:25pm

    “Incredibly though, the government looks set on excluding from the referendum the very people whose lives will be most directly affected by the result. Britain is now home to around 2.4 million citizens from other EU countries”

    And they are not british, or otherwise accepted into the franchise as a result of historic kinship that we [choose] to recognise in advance of other claims. *Pours himself a large glass of wine*

  • “Whilst it’s true that the European elections have little do with the UK’s relationship with the EU, that certainly wasn’t the attitude of the last election. Is this relevant? I think potentially.”

    It is relevant, but only to show that both media and political parties will quite happily distort facts to suit their agenda’s…

    The fact is that as previously discussed on LDV, the electorate entitled to vote in the referendum, is the same electorate who are entitled to vote in the Westminster elections. Given it is the Parliament in Westminster that has the power to decide on the UK’s membership that makes logical sense. As Eddie Sammon pointed out, if you think the rules of membership to this electorate need to be revised then that really should be treated as a separate matter to the EU referendum.

  • If the UK total vote is to Brexit the EU and Scotland votes to stay in there will be another Scottish Independence Referendum Scoltland will not want to leave EU, and furthermore it is only fair that any EU nationals living in the UK should be entitled to vote in such an important referendum. I am so happy the SNP are leading the way forward to Scotland staying in the EU, Scotland and Scots love the EU and we are friendly and open to all the peoples of Europe.

  • James Ridgwell 21st Aug '15 - 10:22pm

    I agree with Adam Casey’s comments

  • Jonathan Brown 22nd Aug '15 - 12:39am

    As with most issues that matter, there are valid points to be made on all sides of the debate, but I think this sentence by Giles gets to the core of it: “Liberal Democrats must expose this travesty of democracy and fight for all those most affected by the EU referendum to have an equal vote”

    There are many electoral and constitutional issues that this country needs to address, ideally in some sort of constitutional convention so as to be able to take the politics of party advantage out of it. Eligibility for voting in this referendum is a great example.

    Lib Dems have for ages supported this kind of review and reform, but others have blocked it. We are where we are. So I think the principled thing to do is refer to the point of democracy – to enable the people to express their views and exercise political power over their lives.

    The US revolutionary cry of ‘no taxation without representation’ was a very good one, and the same principle applies here: those most affected by the outcome of this referendum should be given the chance to vote in it. This includes UK expats who moved abroad under the existing rules, and includes those who have made a life for themselves in the country, again under the existing laws (which do not require people to take up British citizenship).

    I will be supporting the ammendment.

  • My perspective is that holding a single and exclusive citizenship is for many an outdated concept. I am English, British and European. Many people who are not allowed to vote could obtain British citizenship if they wanted, thanks to the length of time they have spent in UK, or due to marriage etc. Some might have to renounce a another citizenship to do so, others do not. What proportion of folk now go through an entire working life working in one country? The voting eligibility makes no sense.

  • Neil Sandison 22nd Aug '15 - 9:59am

    The EU referendum will have a profound impact on all those resident in the UK .It does effect all those who pay tax and appear on the electoral register as residents of Great Britain .Therefor all residents should have a vote .The exceptions are ex pats and commonwealth citizens not the other way round .There should be a legal challenge that an established legal resident should have the right to participate in the EU referendum .There are human rights issues in excluding a sections of the electorate from participating since they already have a right to vote on EU and local government issues through the ballot box .Liberal Democrats stand up for the rights of all of our citizens regardless of country of origin .We must challenge this now.

  • The Lib Dem European election campaign was a serious error.

  • @ Adam Casey

    I lived in Canada (or more specifically southern Ontario) for two years in the late 70’s and found it much more unlike Britain than France. The language was the same of course (more or less!) but in attitudes, culture and history I found myself much more at home in France. I spent quite a bit of time in Newfoundland and the further east in Canada (from Ontario) the more at home I felt, in general. I doubt if Ontario has got more British in the last 40 years!

    Australia and New Zealand are much more British than Canada, in my experience! At least they play British sports (and Irish), not American ones!

  • ” it is only fair that any EU nationals living in the UK should be entitled to vote in such an important referendum”

    Strange idea of fairness. They are effectively our guests, able to be here because of a decision the UK electorate made in 1975 and thus subject to the terms of that decision. It is thus totally right that it is the UK electorate and ONLY the UK electorate decides on any revision to the 1975 decision . This is also wholly in line with LibDem policies on localism. I think it is also in line with principle human rights…

  • Its still quite unlikely that the No campaign will pull Britain out of the European Union, but if the referendum delivers a result that they can even slightly credibly claim has been fiddled with in advance, that will create problems. I want to make certain that the likes of Dav, Richard Stallard, that other kipper and all our occasional visitors from that end of popular opinion have as little ammunition to challenge the result with as possible. On a larger scale, our side of politics should seek to minimise the amount of credible whataboutery that UKIP and its ilk can get away with after the vote.

    After the referendum, if its a Yes we should then look at the franchise and seek to remove anachronisms like the Commonwealth thing as well as enfranchising UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens resident in the UK. But we should hold off until we’ve collectively decided whether the English want to be part of Europe or not.

  • Richard Stallard 22nd Aug '15 - 5:47pm

    “Its still quite unlikely that the No campaign will pull Britain out of the European Union, but if the referendum delivers a result that they can even slightly credibly claim has been fiddled with in advance, that will create problems.”

    Not really, T-J. I think you’re on pretty safe ground. Even if not, the eu will, as usual, make us vote again until we give the ‘right’ answer. No, we’ll just have to wait until the over-bloated edifice sinks and just hope we don’t get taken down with it.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd Aug '15 - 7:38pm

    Nigel Farage does not think so.

  • Richard Stallard 22nd Aug '15 - 8:04pm

    Oh, I see – Some of you think I’m a Kipper!!
    Oh Lordy, now that is funny. You know how people write ‘LOL’ in internet speak? Well, that really did have me ‘LOLing’ (as it were).

    Sorry to have to tell you; hatred of the eu transcends party boundaries and you’ll find it amongst people of all political persuasions. Because, of course, the only people stupid enough to be anti eu must be either Kippers or the odd right-wing Conservative – right?
    Oh dearie me…. you’ve made my weekend!

  • The referendum is a long overdue opportunity for the British electorate and Commonwealth citizens living here to vote on EU membership. It would therefore be inappropriate for people here as a consequence of that membership to skew the result, particularly when the numbers involved are considerable and a major reason for calling for a referendum in the first place.

  • This is a much more interesting article than the title led me to expect. It raises an interesting question, who should the electorate be?

    Should an USA citizen living in the UK for 5 years be entitled to vote? No, unless they are committed to staying here and the way they show their commitment is to become a UK citizen. Should a Canadian citizen who has been living here fore 5 years be entitled to vote? No, unless they are committed to staying here and are a UK citizens as well. Should a Spanish citizen who has lived here for 5 years be entitled to vote. No, unless they are also a UK citizen.

    I don’t think a citizen of a Commonwealth country should be entitled to vote if they happen to be living in the UK unless they are entitled to be a UK citizen and this should also apply to the citizens of the Republic of Ireland.

    While I don’t think UK citizens living abroad should be entitled to vote, I would make an exception for the EU referendum so that those UK citizens who don’t have dual citizenship with another EU country living in the EU would get a vote.

  • A further thought, given how many years notice has been given for this referendum, I suggest that ANY person who thinks strongly about this and wishes to vote will have done the necessary to ensure they will have a vote already; particularly given that both the LibDems and Labour have previously encouraged people in immigrant communities to register so that they can vote in Westminster elections.

  • Oh dear, LibDem fear-mongering again. Not content with the disproven 3 million jobs lost by leaving the hegemony, now it’s ‘the government will deport every UK non-citizen’. Ignoring UNCHR ‘acquired rights’ only LibDems would suggest the removal of a valued part of our society.
    Article 50 of the ‘Lisbon Treaty’ demands negotiation on the relationship post-exit and so far only pro-EU people have suggested that would be ignored and that the EU would be malicious towards the citizens of continuing member countries of the EU in addition to UK citizens in EU countries. No acknowledgement of the difference between EU and Europe and the rest of the world.

    The main problem with the blinkered approach of the author and such people is to assume the ill-will of the EU towards the UK, but perhaps that is a result of seeing how it deals with its own members, using take-over tactics and asset stripping when able. Paradoxically I have a better opinion of them. They will follow a policy of self-interest not modified even by malice towards the UK.

    The losses of business when the UK leaves would cripple the EU economy if they were to put their evident schadenfreude into practice in terms of tariffs of goods, services or people.
    I rest easy whether in my UK or EU property.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 6:32pm

    Adam Casey 21st Aug ’15 – 4:51pm “Canada is so like the UK”
    Canada is geographically much larger than the UK, but with a smaller population. It has a land border with Alaska and another with the ‘southern 48’ of the USA. Most of its people live close to the southern border. It has a fully federal structure, including the francophone province of Quebec. When De Gaulle visited Canada he uttered the slogan “Vive Le Qubec libre” which was undiplomatic of him to his Canadian hosts. Although he had lived in the Uk for several years during World War 2 he never said anything similar here, because it would have made no sense.
    Canada is a member of NATO, but does not have nuclear weapons. Canada has a Pacific policy and immigration for China, including Hong Kong.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Aug '15 - 6:54pm

    Dav 21st Aug ’15 ” … the whole question at issue is whether we want to be ‘fellow EU citizens’ or not” No it is not.
    The issue will be whether the UK wishes to be IN the EU or OUT.
    We are somewhat lazy if English is our first language. Others speak multiple languages as a matter of course, but the old cliche / truism remains that you can buy in your own language but you are more likely to sell in the language of the customer. We should therefore look to the beam in our own eye and not just to the splinter in someone else’s.

  • Giles Goodall 23rd Aug '15 - 11:11pm

    @Simon, Rebecca, Jonathan: Thank you

    @Davy Nook: the rights of Brits as EU citizens to live and work freely in any other EU country (and for any other EU citizen to reciprocally do so here) stem directly from our EU membership. These rights would cease upon a British exit from the EU and any new rights would have to be negotiated from scratch.

    @Peter: it is precisely because those citizens (British or from another EU country) have exercised their free movement rights that they should have a say in their continuation.

    @Adam Casey: The point is that all citizens of EU countries enjoy additional rights as EU citizens, just as 62 million Brits do. That includes the right to vote and stand in local and European elections in one’s country of residence. Brits have been elected to local councils in Spain and Lithuania, among other places, and to the European Parliament from France. Likewise we have elected representatives in the UK from other EU communities. They are citizens who contribute to the life of our country in all ways. Surely that warrants a say in the most important referendum we’ll have had in over 40 years? The Scots got it right when they gave all EU citizens resident a vote in their own referendum. Eminently fair and logical.

    @Morwen Millson: Agree. Rights for Brits to local healthcare services, pensions, and social services around the EU would all be null and void on exiting the EU, until such time that the UK is able to negotiate new terms for access with the 27 other countries (should it indeed seek to do so).

  • Little Jackie Paper 23rd Aug '15 - 11:44pm

    ‘These rights would cease upon a British exit from the EU and any new rights would have to be negotiated from scratch.’

    Is that such a terrible thing? Ultimately, the people that move on the back of EU rights are denizens. They can become citizens, but they are adults with agency, capable of making such a decision. No one as far as I am aware has said that the EU is for keeps, forever, never to be considered. There is no bad faith.

    I am making efforts to get citizenship of my wife’s country for just this reason. I have no reasonable expectation as a denizen of special treatment.

  • @Giles – Your feedback is very interesting, thank you for confirming my original point, namely your desire is to rig the vote; even if in doing so you go against LibDem principles.

  • I don’t think non-citizens should be given the vote in the referendum.

    In fact, I don’t think it should be extended to the Commonwealth citizens either – but that’t a relic of the Empire, so let it stay for a while.

    What looks strange to me is the British citizens losing the vote after living abooad for 15 years. Is that true?

  • Giles Goodall 26th Aug '15 - 8:25pm

    @Igor: Yes, British citizens lose the right to vote in any UK elections after 15 years residing in another country, even if that country is in the EU. There is no automatic right to vote in any other country, and they would be excluded from the referendum, even though the government has committed to bringing forward a bill to restore the vote AFTER the referendum.

    @jedi: Do you therefore believe the Scottish government was wrong to give EU citizens the vote in the independence referendum, and the British government is wrong to give citizens from Rwanda, Fiji, and Mozambique the vote in the EU referendum?

  • As a British citizen living in Holland yet still vey connected to the UK by regular visits, family, pension rights, BBC and my recent profession – bi-lingual teacher, I am now totally frustrated by disenfrachisement at the UK national level. I am well integrated into Dutch life yet still feel very British and am determined to get a vote in the referendum. This is a basic Human Rights issue: as a citizen of the UK the vote must be available to me (Article 25 of UN Human Rights). Also in the Universal Charter: “Nobody can take these rights and freedoms from us.” This should not even be a political issue.

    Suggestion: if a EU government decides that a time factor should determine voting rights then, via the EU or bi-lateral agreement, they must enable the transfer of voting rights to the country of residence. Citizens have the right of appeal. Not simple, but as there are already agreements on social security and a host of other areas then this issue must be much higher on the EU Human Rights priorities.

    I am in discussion with MEP’s on this topic and see this as a European as well as UK issue. Freedom of movement in Europe has effectively reduced democracy.

  • Richard Underhill 26th Aug '15 - 11:29pm

    Kit Miles 26th Aug ’15 – 10:55pm Go for it.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Nov '15 - 5:51pm
  • Danny Cameron 4th Jan '16 - 5:06pm

    EU citizens should not have a vote in the EU referendum, unless they are British Citizens. If the vote is to leave the EU & the UK later finds out that it was not a good idea, EU citizens can just go back to their own countries & be part of the EU again. What about the Brits who cannot do this? So the issue can affect Brits more that any EU citizen. British Citizens for British votes.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Jan '16 - 10:25pm

    Danny Cameron 4th Jan ’16 – 5:06pm Suppose an EU citizen who is not a British citizen marries in the UK? The right of a non-EU citizen to accompany a spouse varies according to the laws of the various countries involved. These laws may change in the future, creating more risk and uncertainty for the couple.
    Please also consider the UK’s relationship with the Republic of Ireland. We do a lot of trade. The republic is in the euro. There is an open border with Northern Ireland. There are millions of Irish citizens living in the UK with lengthy ties. If the current UK government does not understand this they are being very short-sighted.

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