Whilst Scottish expats are currently being denied the right to vote in upcoming referendum on Scottish independence on the 18th September there are charges brewing the First Minister Alex Salmond may have acted illegally.
Aidan O’Neill who is an expert in European law was asked by James Wallace a Dumfries born lawyer now based in London for legal advice on the matter. Mr O’Neill said that the rules that had been imposed by the First Minister could be overturned in court with a judicial review finding they violated the right of Scottish expatriates to enjoy freedom of movement under European Union law.
If the current rules were overturned it would mean potentially 1 million more voters heading (with roughly 800,000 of those living elsewhere in the United Kingdom) to the polls in September on top of the roughly 4 million adults currently allowed to vote. Currently anybody over the age of 16 living in Scotland can vote meaning many Commonwealth, Irish and EU citizens (whose citizenship would remain unaffected whatever the outcome of the referendum) will be able vote.
“It’s ridiculous, quite frankly, that Scottish soldiers based in England, 10 out of 11 Scottish Olympians and international rugby players who played for Scotland all their careers, cannot vote,” Wallace stated to Reuters. Mr Wallace has setup a petition which as of writing has over 3600 signatures.
Up to now the Scottish Government has rejected any legal threats and defended the rules of the referendum, stating they are in line with those in place in the 1997 vote on devolution.
A spokeswoman said: “The Edinburgh Agreement confirmed that the franchise for the referendum was for the Scottish Parliament to determine, and it is widely accepted that the Edinburgh Agreement has put the referendum beyond effective legal challenge.”