British Expats Urge Courts to Stop Brexit

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A group of expats are hoping to stop Brexit by challenging the European Council’s negotiating guidelines in court.

The 12 expats, led by campaigner Harry Shindler, a 97-year-old British expat living in Italy, claim the European Council’s negotiation guidelines are illegal.

The group argues each EU body that Britain withdraws from should have been subject of separate talks rather than a single negotiation.

Their argument deals with Britain withdrawing from Euratom, the European atomic research authority as part of Brexit.

They also maintain that British expats in Europe are second-class citizens without a vote in the Brexit process.

Vote claims

“First part of the Euratom Treaty in that the contested decision and its annex provide the automatic withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Atomic Energy Community in conjunction with the withdrawal from the European Union without being the subject of a separate withdrawal procedure,” the case papers read.

The group is also challenging the council’s decision for starting the withdrawal process ‘without expatriate European citizens having had the opportunity to set out their views on the possible loss of their European citizenship’.

The expats argue that they have lost vote because they have ‘exercised their freedom of movement, and that decision has consequently failed to comply with the principle of equal treatment of citizens’.

In 2016, Shindler had a case dismissed in the High Court, London, asking for support in his argument that British expats should be allowed to vote in the Brexit referendum.

Lost cases

Many thousands were excluded from the vote because they had lived outside the UK for more than 15 years.

Around 2 million British expats live in the EU and about 700,000 are affected by the 15-year rule.

“British expats in Europe could have made a big difference in the results of the referendum. It could have swung the entire vote. We hold the key to whether Britain stays in the EU or opts to leave. There’s no question that most Britons in Europe would have voted to remain in the EU,” he said.

In 2013, Shindler also lost a case at the European Courts of Human Rights protesting about the same issue.

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that the rules excluding expats from voting in most British elections will be repealed during this Parliament.

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