The High Court in London has held that there would be “significant practical difficulties about adopting, especially for this referendum, a new electoral register which includes non-resident British citizens whose last residence in the UK was more than 15 years ago”.
The Judges added: “Electoral registration officers currently retain records of previous electoral registers for a period of 15 years. They have no straightforward means of checking the previous residence status of British citizens who have been resident overseas for longer than 15 years".
The Claimants intend to take the case to the Supreme Court so that all British citizens living elsewhere in the EU can be part of the democratic process to vote in this referendum.
The Claimants' lawyers contend: “We believe that there is precedent for fast-track legislation being put through parliament in a matter of days in response to the court judgment, so there would be no need for the referendum to be delayed if the Supreme Court rules in our favour."
In addition, since this is a vote in a referendum rather than in an election, the Claimants' lawyers argue that there is no need to link the votes of Britons in Europe to any particular constituency in the UK. Possession of a British passport should suffice.
A Court challenge brought by 94-year-old second world war veteran living in Italy and lawyer resident in Belgium fails. The court has rejected an attempt to force the government to grant millions of UK citizens living abroad a vote in this June’ s EU referendum. The legal challenge brought by two disenfranchised expats on behalf of those living overseas for more than 15 years was dismissed by Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice Blake. The Government, the judges said, was entitled to adopt a cut-off period “at which extended residence abroad might indicate a weakening of ties with the United Kingdom”.