The Legitimacy of Discriminatory Disenfranchisement? The Impact of the Rules on the Right to Vote in the Bremain/Brexit Referendum

Allan F. Tatham 1
  • 1 Lecturer in EU Law, Faculty of Law, CEU San Pablo University, Madrid.


The Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division of the England and Wales High Court handed down its decision on 20 April 2016 in the judicial review case of Shindler. This ruling confirmed that British citizens living in other EU Member States for more than 15 years remain barred from voting in the June 2016 referendum.

The case sparks further consideration of the voting rules in general and may therefore be of interest to others in considering questions of legitimacy in respect of the eventual outcome of the popular vote on 23 June. Unlike other states, the UK has no established rules on referendums and each such popular vote (and the franchise for it) is therefore treated on an ad hoc basis. Fears have been expressed that the government could manipulate the outcome of a referendum, particularly in determining a different franchise for each popular vote.

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