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Referendum voting rights ‘archaic and racist’

Jean Urquhart: 'EU citizens they to be treated as lesser citizens' - Photo: ShetNews

INDEPENDENT MSP Jean Urquhart has written to Prime Minister David Cameron appealing to change legislation and allow EU citizen living in the UK to vote in the forthcoming referendum on EU membership.

 The Highlands & islands list MSP said the current voting arrangements could be seen as “archaic and racist”.

On 23 June, the 2.3 million EU citizens living in the UK will be barred from having their say in whether or not the UK should leave the European Union, while British citizens living abroad and not paying taxes in the UK will be able to cast their vote.

Urquhart said numerous of her constituents were asking why they were being denied a fundamental democratic right.

In her letter to the Prime Minister, the former SNP parliamentarian described the referendum legislation as discriminatory against millions of people who were paying taxes and contributed to society.

“Those who pay millions each year into our economy, those who fill thousands of jobs, our nurses, our teachers, our doctors – even our politicians in the case of my colleague, Christian Allard MSP – are they to be treated as lesser citizens?

She said they were discriminated against because of their ethnicity and urged the Prime Minister to give a public explanation why those from other EU member states were treated as second class citizens.

“I understand that it is now too late now to change the franchise for the upcoming referendum, but perhaps, for the sake of all those EU citizens who call the United Kingdom home, you could offer an explanation as to why you seek to alienate them from this process,” she said.

Urquhart has previously written to David Cameron calling to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds but her appeal was rejected with no explanation.