MSP seeks answers from PM over EU franchise

Independent MSP Jean Urquhart has written to the Prime Minister seeking an explanation over the so-called EU franchise, which she suggested could be seen as “archaic and racist.”

Regulations give the right to vote to British citizens living outwith the United Kingdom, even if they have not lived in, or paid taxes in the UK, for up to 15 years.

But Ms Urquhart, who intends to stand for Scotland’s left wing alliance Rise in the forthcoming Holyrood election, says EU citizens resident in the UK are unfairly denied the chance to take part in the democratic process.

Jean Urquhart.
Jean Urquhart.

The MSP, who lives in the isles, previously wrote to David Cameron in an appeal to reconsider the franchise and to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds as well as EU citizens resident in the United Kingdom.

But she says her appeal was rejected with no explanation. Now, she is demanding one from 10 Downing Street.

“Since the announcement of the EU referendum, and the confirmation of the franchise for this referendum, I am increasingly contacted by constituents asking if it is true that they will be unable to vote, and why,” her letter states.

“These are fellow EU citizens, now resident in the United Kingdom, and I am unable to offer them a reasonable explanation as to why they have been denied the right to take part in this democratic process.

“That this government seeks to extend voting privileges to expats, tabling a Votes for Life Bill to abolish the 15 year rule, yet refuses citizens living and working here in the United Kingdom the right to vote, suggests that your values are based purely on ethnicity.

“It sends a message that it does not matter if you are no longer contributing to the British economy, even if you haven’t stepped foot in Britain for years, you were born here and that gives you a privilege.

“Many see this rhetoric as inherently racist and archaic.”


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