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Thousands of EU citizens could lose 'automatic right to vote'

Thousands of EU citizens could lose 'automatic right to vote'

Published by Grace Mcgachy
3:00pm 17th October 2019.

Thousands of EU citizens in West Norfolk could lose their automatic right to vote in elections following Brexit.

At the moment they're allowed to vote in European Parliament and local elections. 

But reciprocal voting rights for EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens living in the EU, have not been agreed with most member states after Brexit  only with Spain, Luxembourg and Portugal.

polling station

The3Million, an organisation which campaigns for EU citizens’ rights in the UK, says it means some people could “lose the right to any form of democratic representation”.

It means that 5,453 voters in King's Lynn and West Norfolk – 4.7% of the electorate – could lose their right to vote following the UK’s departure from the EU.

The figures exclude those with dual nationality in the UK, Irish citizens, who can vote in all UK elections, and people from Malta and Cyprus, who will maintain their right to vote as they are Commonwealth countries.

Maike Bohn, spokeswoman for the3million, said maintaining voting rights is one of the campaign group’s key objectives.

“Some people, because of the way electoral law works in their home countries, will have no right to vote there either. Many will lose the right to vote in European elections.

There are some people who will lose the right to any form of democratic representation – and that is unacceptable in the 21st century.

The [Brexit] referendum has already shown what happens when you don’t have a voice.”

European Flag


West Norfolk voted 66.4% in favour of Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum – which EU citizens were not allowed to vote in.

A new report from the Electoral Commission shows that some EU citizens could already have had their votes hampered, after some British expats and citizens of other EU member states living in the UK faced “difficulties” when trying to vote in the European parliamentary elections on May 23.

The commission said the problems were caused by the Government's delay in implementing electoral changes it had first recommended in 2014.

In that election, the largest share of King's Lynn and West Norfolk’s vote, 47.4%, went to the Brexit Party. 

The East of England electoral region returned three Brexit Party MEPs, two Liberal Democrats, one Green and one Conservative to the European Parliament.

voting stock image


A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said:

"We are pursuing bilateral arrangements with all member states to protect the right to vote and stand in local elections.

We have now reached bilateral agreements with Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg and have made positive progress with a number of other member states."

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