This week the3million launched ‘Let us vote’, a campaign to extend the right to vote in general elections and referendums to all residents in the UK.
We are campaigning with our friends in British in Europe, Another Europe is Possible and JCWI in support of voting rights for all British citizens abroad and all UK residents, no matter where they were born.
Please, help us by signing the petition, asking your MP to take the pledge and tweeting to support the campaign on #LetUsVote. We’ve got David Lammy MP and film director Mike Leigh signed up already — you’ll be in good company.
Until now, we have only campaigned to keep our current rights and not to extend them — so why are we doing this?
One glaring injustice of the 2016 referendum was that millions of people directly affected by a decision to leave the EU were denied a vote. I was among them, a Danish citizen living in London. So was my mother, a British citizen who made Denmark her home in the 1970s.
EU citizens in the UK couldn’t vote unless they were Commonwealth citizens: Irish, Cypriot or Maltese. Anyone recently arrived from Sydney could vote on my future — while I couldn’t, despite living here for many years and completing two Master’s degrees at British universities.
Many of us will lose voting rights after Brexit: we will no longer be able to vote for UK Members of the European Parliament, and can only vote for MEPs in our home country depending on the national franchise. I lost my right to vote in Denmark only 24 months after leaving the country — so, goodbye European Parliament voting rights!
Then there is our right to vote and stand for office in local elections. Instead of offering firm guarantees that this will continue, the UK government is seeking “bilateral arrangements” with EU member states. So far, the only agreement has been with Spain.
The rest of us will be able to vote in May 2019 local elections – beyond that, who knows? The patchwork of UK voting rights may soon become even more confusing.
We all know that not everyone has the option of applying for UK citizenship – the £1,200 price tag is a barrier for many people, and some countries do not allow dual nationality.
We have seen after the 2016 referendum what happens to people who cannot vote – their concerns are ignored, and their rights are whittled away. We, EU citizens, 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 all other residents in the UK.
Citizens rights in case of no deal.
In other news, our campaign to keep the citizens’ rights agreement, even in case of no deal, gained fresh momentum when the Dutch parliament voted in favour of a motion similar to the Costa agreement in the UK: it calls on the Dutch government to commit itself to ring-fencing the citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement if the no-deal scenario becomes inevitable. Those rights, agreed over a year ago in the Withdrawal Agreement, are the only way to comprehensively protect the 5 million EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU.
Our Dutch campaign team — Monique Hawkins, Hedgwig Hestermans, Francisca Oxley and Nicole Wevers — were instrumental in this success and in securing the support of MEPs like Sophie in’t Veld who said: “It is high time to clarify the situation for the five million citizens who, for two years now, have been waiting with fear and trembling to see what their fate will be. Many of them were born as EU citizens, with full EU citizenship rights. Now they are being deprived of their civil rights in one fell swoop. This is unacceptable in a democratic constitutional state.”
You can read more about why ring-fencing is so crucial in a no deal scenario at www.the3million.org.uk/what-happens
Did you know the3million is the leading non-profit organisation of EU citizens in the UK? We are grateful of your support, as we simply couldn’t have campaigned for citizens’ rights over the last 24 months without you. If you can afford it, please become a paying supporter today to allow the campaign to continue for the next 24 months and beyond if necessary.
You can also:
- Follow our Twitter account.
- Like our Facebook page.
- Take part in the conversations with 37,000 fellow EU citizens on Facebook.
- Forward our newsletter to your friends and relatives, who can sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox.
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(This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)