Our new campaign has launched to demand the right of all UK residents, and all UK citizens living abroad, to vote in general elections and referendums. The Let Us Vote campaign, launched today by the3million, British in Europe and Another Europe is Possible, is backed by a number of MPs and is expected to snowball after its launch.
At present, only Commonwealth and Irish citizens can vote in UK general elections and referendums, while European citizens can vote in local and European elections. UK citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years are also barred from voting. All together, around ten million people are denied the right to vote in all elections.
The campaign, which is expressly neutral on Brexit and on party politics, hopes to change the law, either by securing the support of a majority of MPs in this parliament for the changes, or by getting the policy into the manifesto of the party which forms the next government.
Visit the website to sign the petition and write to your MP to support the campaign.
MPs, film director Mike Leigh and the chief executives of NGOs such as the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants are backing the campaign.
Jane Golding, from the British in Europe campaign, said:
“In our global, interconnected world, what happens in one country has direct repercussions on its citizens who live elsewhere in the world. The last three UK votes have shown this unequivocally. The UK’s approach on citizenship and the franchise is outdated and needs to change: otherwise vast numbers of mobile British citizens, many of whom simply moved to look for work or to study, will have no voice in any national elections anywhere and will be shut out of the democratic process.”
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, said:
“The fact that millions of people who live in this country and have made lives here are denied a vote in how they are governed ought to shame us as a society. The past few years have taught us that not just public services, but fundamental rights and the right to live in the place you call home, can be threatened and undermined by politicians who claim to speak for all of us. This period has also taught us how inadequate Britain’s democratic institutions are. MPs have a responsibility to fight for the rights of those who have been silenced, and that is what I intend to do.”
Katia Widlak, from the3million said:
“No matter how long we’ve lived in the U.K. for or how much we contribute in our workplace or our community, EU citizens – unlike Commonwealth citizens – do not have the right to vote in U.K. national elections. In the 2016 referendum we were denied a vote on our own future after a xenophobic campaign.
To add insult to injury, we now face the loss of our right to vote and stand as candidates in local elections. We are tired of being talked about, instead of being part of the conversation – that’s why we want the right to vote for ourselves and for all immigrants.”
Alena Ivanova, from Another Europe is Possible, said:
“Migrants are being scapegoated and attacked and blamed. Our rights are being brought into question and our futures made uncertain. Abolishing free movement would mean the most significant shrinking of migrants’ rights in decades, but the vast majority of us have no say in general elections or referendums. In a world of climate crisis and constitutional instability, we need to be bold, and extend the right to vote to everyone who has a stake in society.”
Satbir Singh, CEO of the Joint Committee for the Welfare of Immigrants, said:
“People who have come here from overseas and become part of our communities are constantly hearing their lives debated in the media and in parliament, as if they were passive and unaware or unaffected. Everybody who has settled here has a stake and deserves a voice and a vote – this is a basic requirement of a democratic society.”
Nicolas Hatton, from the3million, said:
“In 2016, EU citizens in the UK did not have a say in the biggest political decision affecting their personal lives on every level. To add insult to injury, Brexiters successfully pitted us against our Commonwealth friends during the referendum campaign, which ultimately swung the balance. It is time to give a voice to the 3,6 million EU citizens who have made the UK their home.”