EU Citizens in UK: Democracy Denied
Reports are coming in from all over Britain that EU citizens were turned away from polling booths last Thursday. There are about three million European Union citizens living in the UK. EU citizens living in the UK are entitled to vote in elections to the European Parliament in Britain. Instead thousands were being rejected and being told to told to go to Germany (or wherever they came from) in order to claim their right to vote!
Labour MP David Lammy tweeted about “ugly discrimination” for people who had endured “three years of being insulted, exploited and asked to apply to stay in their own homes”.
The government claims it was all a misunderstanding. They screwed up. But democratic rights are precious. They had been warned to get things right, as Cat West’s letter to the Guardian printed below clearly shows. They ignored those warnings. The government’s negligence is sinister.
Claude Moraes, the Labour MEP for London who is Chair of the Justice Committee at the European Parliament, has written to Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, about the ‘depressing and extraordinary disenfranchisement’ of voters. Moraes wants a “full inquiry into what went wrong” to be conducted swiftly.
The Electoral Commission said it would be reviewing the treatment of EU citizens in the election but Moraes said they should have done more to avert the scandal.
Letter to Guardian (May 28th) from Catherine West MP, Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green
The government can’t say they weren’t warned about the risk of EU citizens being denied a vote I was granted an urgent question on the issue in parliament back in April, when there was still ample time for action to be taken to prevent this happening.
The government refused to listen and make changes to allow the additional form for EU citizens to be completed at the polling station. Shamefully, the minister dismissed my concerns, suggesting EU citizens could vote in their ‘home countries’, when the UK is their home.
Everything I feared came to pass last week, and this government could have prevented it. How can we hold up our democracy when thousands of people have been disenfranchised from their basic right to vote? I wrote to the Electoral Commission to raise my concerns back in April. We need urgent action to prevent this from ever happening again.