Brexit talks are illegal as thousands of expats could not vote in EU referendum, says French lawyer


Millions of UK citizens were deprived of their voting rights during the EU referendum by reason of having lived abroad for 15 years or more.

Voting rights for all UK citizens regardless of time lived abroad were promised by David Cameron in 2015, and again by the Government in October 2016, with the promise that they would be given prior to the next General Election. These promises remain unfulfilled.

The deprivation of votes to millons of UK citizens may well have affected the outcome of the EU referendum. This may be illegal under EU law.

Action for Expat Votes is supporting a legal action to restore voting rights and at the same time to challenge the validity of the EU referendum.

We are raising funds to pay the costs of up to ten representative UK appellants in a group action, estimated at £15,000 in total including the crowdfund costs.

If you are a UK citizen resident in any EU country, deprived of a vote in the referendum, and would like to be a representative appellant (at no cost) please contact us at putting ‘Appellant’ in the subject heading. We will contact you.

More background :
The case will be led by Bordeaux lawyer Julien Fouchet. Action for Expat Votes will be coordinating the project.

The case as summarised by Julien Fouchet:

A legal action to represent the citizens of the European Union deprived of their voting rights during the EU referendum by initiating a legal procedure before the General Court of the European Union by the 22nd of July 2017.

To this day, legal proceedings in front of British courts have been taken to challenge the deprivation of some British citizens’ voting rights during the EU referendum, considered with an impact on the European scale; yet British judges are bound by the vote at national level.

Thus, only the European Courts may decide a serious legal irregularity has been raised during the EU referendum.

Equal treatment of all European citizens is a fundamental principle foreseen in the European Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

This court action will be brought by non-British lawyers in the name of the EU solidarity before the General Court of the European Union by the 22nd of July 2017.

The Government position, clearly stated, is that the referendum was the constitutional Decision in accordance with Article 50(1). DExEU state that the decision was made on 23rd June 2016 by the electorate. That assertion was made again by David Davis in the Commons on presenting the NoW Bill, is in the Explanatory Notes to the Bill, was stated by T May in her purported Notice, and is confirmed in writing in a letter from Lord Bridges (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the DExEU) to Lord Lucas - of which we hold a copy. The effect of an EU ruling that the referendum was not valid under EU law may be momentous.

Action for Expat Votes is organised and managed by ACTION FOR EUROPE, a group of academics and professionals based in the UK and France. All funds will be strictly controlled and monitored, and full accounts will be published. The use of any excess funds remaining afterwards will be put to a vote of donors.


Sadly this and another similar challenge have little chance of success and certainly will not change the decision made by the UK’s Parliament that the UK will initiate the process for the UK to leave the EU.

This is not my personal view but one supported by the team behind the People’s Challenge (a group of people including myself who challenged the UK Government on its intention to use Royal Prerogative to trigger Art. 50).

The status & validity of the referendum would have to be challenged via the UK courts.

The UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2013 that the 15 year limit was not illegal. The challenge in the UK courts to using the same criteria for the 2016 EU referendum was also ruled as being legal by the UK’s Supreme Court.

In any event the UK’s Parliament has now decided that the UK should initiate negotiations for the UK to leave the EU plus a UK government will be elected on 8th June on the basis that the UK will be leaving the EU.

That is not to say that the UK leaving the EU is inevitable.

The People’s Challenge has already established that the UK Parliament has the right to decide on what is best for the UK, taking into account all options including remaining in the EU, once the result of the Art. 50 negotiations are known.

It is a measure of how frustrated and desperate many UK citizens feel, including those living overseas, that they will grasp at any straw.

However we must be realistic and support those campaigns/initiatives that have a real chance of success.

It is no longer just a question of whether the UK remains in the EU or not, it is a much broader question of what is in the best interests of the UK as a whole.

Grahame PIgney - The People’s Challenge

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