A HIGHLANDS AND Moray MSP has written to the Prime Minister urging him to explain voting rules for resident EU Citizens.
Independent MSP Jean Urquhart has told David Cameron that the rules governing the referendum, the EU franchise, are being seen as “archaic and racist”.
As they stand the rules will see the right to vote in the EU Referendum being given to British citizens living outside the United Kingdom, even if they have not lived here or paid taxes in the UK for up to 15 years.
At the same time, EU Citizens resident in the United Kingdom and contributing to their communities are being denied the chance to take part in this democratic process.
The MSP had previously written to the Prime Minister in an appeal to reconsider the franchise and to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds as well as EU citizens resident in the United Kingdom – an appeal that was rejected with no explanation.
In her latest appeal the MSP writes: “I am increasingly contacted by constituents asking if it is true that they will be unable to vote, and why. These are fellow EU citizens, now resident in the United Kingdom, and I am unable to offer them a reasonable explanation as to why they have been denied the right to take part in this democratic process.
“That this government seeks to extend voting privileges to expats, tabling a Votes for Life Bill to abolish the 15year rule, yet refuses citizens living and working here in the United Kingdom the right to vote suggests that your values are based purely on ethnicity.
“It sends a message that it does not matter if you are no longer contributing to the British economy, even if you haven’t stepped foot in Britain for years, you were born here and that gives you a privilege.
“And to 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? Many see this rhetoric as inherently racist and archaic.”
The MSP concluded: “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.”