Brits Living in EU Launch Suit to Declare Brexit Referendum Null and Void
A group of British expats living in other EU member states, aptly named the UK in EU Challenge group, has launched a legal suit seeking to declare the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum null and void.
In their June 2016 referendum, a narrow majority of the British citizens voted in favor of Brexit (51.9% to 48.1%).
Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, which is expected to be followed by 1.5-year-long transition period, until December 31, 2020.
British citizens living in Spain, France, and Italy are arguing that irregularities committed by the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum should be sufficient to declare its results null and void, El Pais English reports.
Spain-based Sue Wilson, the lead claimant in the UK in EU Challenge group and chair of the Bremain in Spain forum, has been campaigning against Brexit since before the 2016 referendum.
The group of British expats points out that recent findings have cast doubt on the validity of the Brexit referendum.
“Recent findings by the Electoral Commission of illegal conduct by the Leave campaign during the 2016 EU Referendum have called into question as to whether the referendum was conducted in accordance with the UK’s constitutional requirements,” Wilson wrote in a Bremain in Spain newsletter.
“The Electoral Commission found ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Vote Leave, the official campaign, cheated on its spending limit by almost £700,000 (6%),” argues the UK in EU Challenge group represented by Croft Solicitors
“The courts can declare the vote null and void if there has been cheating of exactly this type,” they add.
The British expats further insist that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to trigger back in March 2017 Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on leaving the EU was therefore inadmissible.
“[May’s decision] was not in line with the UK’s ‘constitutional requirements,’ as fair elections are at the heart of our Constitution,” the UK in EU Challenge group says, urging the UK leader “to act on the clear and unambiguous findings that cheating was at the core of the EU Referendum by proposing a second referendum with strictly enforced rules.”
“This isn’t about ‘leave’ or ‘remain’. It’s about rights, fairness and democracy,” the British expats state.
The British government’s legal department responded that the expats’ claim was “substantially out of time,” and had already been considered and rejected in a previous court case. In response, the associations have now filed this fresh law suit.
“The Brexit referendum has caused considerable damage to the economy, and the reputation and very fabric of British society,” Sue Wilson is quoted as saying.
“The way that EU citizens are being treated by the UK government is shameful; the treatment of its own citizens in the EU is no better. We are invisible, our voices unheard. Well, we think they will be listening now. The legal challenge is being brought by Brits in the EU, but it’s for everyone. The rights and freedoms that are at risk because of Brexit are everyone’s rights. If the referendum had been fair, maybe the result – close as it was – would have been easier to accept, but it was not. It must be challenged,” Wilson elaborated.
“People’s lives are at stake. Never before in modern peacetime history have citizens had such existing rights removed. To do this on the basis of a result achieved through deception goes against not only the law but basic human principles,” added Elinore Grayson, a co-complainant in the case who lives in France.
In apparent ramifications of the Brexit referendum, 2017 saw a record number of British citizens acquire citizenship of another EU member state, and registered the highest number of EU citizens who emigrated from the UK.
(Banner image: Flickr)