Politics

Almost 70 MPs write to government demanding #deniedmyvote public inquiry

Layla Moran’s letter comes after petition asking for an investigation into why EU citizens were not able to vote reaches 136,000 signatures

Polling station iStock

Calls for an immediate inquiry into why EU nationals were unable to vote in last month’s election have received cross-party support from 68 MPs.

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran’s letter has been signed by politicians from across six political parties, including her party colleagues Wera Hobhouse and Caroline Lucas as well as former Change UK and now Independent MP Heidi Allen, Labour’s Hillary Benn and Stella Creasey.

According to a study by The Guardian, only one in 10 EU nationals were able to cast their vote in some areas as thousands took to social media to report being turned away from polling stations on the May 23 vote.

Their #deniedmyvote campaign swelled into a 136,000 signature-strong petition calling for an inquiry while campaign group The3million told The Big Issue that they were eyeing legal action against the government.

Now, Moran’s letter to the chair of the Electoral Commission and the Cabinet Secretary is intensifying those demands, warning that “we find it deeply concerning that the Government appears to have taken no action to stop such serious disenfranchisement from occurring”.

It also notes that the Electoral Commission recommended reform following similar issues in 2014 elections and points the finger at the government for failing to confirm that UK would take part in the EU elections earlier

“The government clearly has absolutely zero interest in enfranchising EU citizens – their actions show that,” said Moran.

“I’m delighted that so many of my colleagues, from six different parties and independents, have signed this letter. We may disagree on many things, but we all want to stand up for our constituents, neighbours, family members and loved ones who were turned away.

“This problem could have easily been avoided, and I’m frankly ashamed that this has happened in our country in 2019.”

So far, the government response has been to wait for an Electoral Commission report into the election with Junior Cabinet Minister Kevin Foster insisting that they took “all legal steps necessary”.

However, the3million’s co-founder Maike Bohn told The Big Issue that the row had cast a question over the state of democracy in the UK.

“This is about personal justice, it’s about discrimination, it’s about sending a strong signal that you cannot as a government neglect a fundamental democratic right,” she said. “We don’t want this to happen again. We need to make sure in Britain and in Europe that the right to vote is protected.”

There is currently a bid to translate the wildly-successful Change.org petition to the parliamentary petitions site where it has already passed the 10,000 signatures required to earn a government response.

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