No votes for ex-pat

Posted: 31st October 2012

A campaigning ex-patriot has failed to convince the Court of Appeal that a ban on British nationals voting in domestic elections once they have lived outside the jurisdiction for 15 years violates his fundamental right to freedom of movement between European Union (EU) member states.

MarinaJames Preston, who has for many years lived and worked in Spain, had asked the court to declare that the ’15-year rule’ laid down by the Representation of the People Act 1985 was incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

However, whilst recognising that the case had raised issues of ‘general importance’, the court dismissed Mr Preston’s appeal against an earlier decision that the rule did not amount to a disproportionate obstacle or barrier to British ex-patriots exercising their right to move freely and reside in other EU member states.

Lord Justice Mummery, sitting with Lord Justice Sullivan and Sir David Keene, said that the rule was designed to achieve a legitimate objective by removing the right to vote from those whose links with the UK have diminished over time and who are not, for the most part, as directly affected by the laws passed by parliament and by the decisions of the UK government as British citizens who reside in the UK.