Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, said: "The claimants say that their exclusion from the franchise is an unjustified restriction on their EU right - EU law right - of free movement and contrary to their constitutional, common law right to vote. 

"For the reasons set out in the judgments that are handed down, the appeal against the dismissal of their claims is dismissed. The court holds first that the EU Referendum Act 2015 does not fall within the scope of EU law at all, so that the claim fails at the first hurdle."

He added that "the common law right to vote does not take precedence over an Act of Parliament" and refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. 

However, lawyers for the expats said they would still be taking the case to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, 24 May 2016, and that permission to appeal - as well as the merits of the appeal itself - would be considered at the hearing.