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News | Published December 07 2019

Johnson criticises Labour’s proposed extension of voting rights

Boris Johnson has attacked Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to extend the right to vote in a future Brexit referendum to EU nationals residing in the UK, should Labour win the general election.

A second EU referendum within six months of Labour coming to power, placing a new Labour-negotiated withdrawal agreement against the option to Remain, is a key part of Corbyn’s Brexit policy.

However, Johnson and the Conservatives feel that allowing EU nationals to vote in such a referendum is a “sly attempt” from the Labour leader to “fiddle” the end result.

Labour say that it is “right” for individuals who have lived in the UK for long periods to “vote over their future”, but the Conservatives believe that such a move would hand an unequivocal advantage to Remain.

Writing to Corbyn, Johnson said: "This is a sly attempt to undermine the result of the 2016 referendum, and is profoundly undemocratic.

"Your policy of giving millions of foreign citizens the vote in order to overturn the referendum would create incredible bitterness that might take decades to repair.

"It would alienate millions who already feel disenfranchised and ignored by our political system."

To date, EU citizens are unable to vote in general elections, with the exception of citizens from the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta. 

EU citizens were not permitted to vote in the 2016 referendum on EU membership, but do reserve voting rights in local elections and elections for the devolved parliaments.

Labour’s election manifesto includes a more broad voting rights pledge of overseeing “the largest extension of the franchise in generations”, with the right to vote handed to all UK residents along with lowering the voting age to 16.

The Liberal Democrats also support granting EU nationals the right to vote in UK referendums and general elections, under the condition that they have resided in the UK for a minimum of five years.


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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
@theparlreview
December 07 2019

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