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Thousands of EU citizens in Cornwall could 'lose right to vote'

Thousands of EU citizens in Cornwall could 'lose right to vote'

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 2:59pm 17th October 2019. (Updated at 3:00pm 17th October 2019)

It is claimed thousands of EU citizens in Cornwall could lose their automatic right to vote in elections following Brexit.

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'.

Currently, EU citizens based in England are entitled to vote in European Parliament and local government 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 – to date, such agreements have been reached with only Spain, Luxembourg and Portugal.

It means that 6,201 voters in Cornwall – 1.5% 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.

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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."

Maike Bohn, the3million

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Cornwall voted 56.5% 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 Cornwall’s vote, 41.1%, went to the Brexit Party. The South West electoral region returned three Brexit Party MEPs, two Liberal Democrat and one Green to the European Parliament.

"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."

Spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union

You can find the source data here, here and here.

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