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British citizens living in EU granted leave to appeal in Brexit challenge

Lawyers seek expedited hearing at the Court of Appeal to hear challenge to High Court ruling over Brexit ban on British citizens living abroad for over 15 years

6 May 2016

The High Court has given permission for lawyers acting for two British citizens, fighting a legal battle for the right to vote in the EU Referendum, to take their case to the Court of Appeal.

On Thursday (28 April 2016) two High Court judges rejected the legal challenge taken by 94-year-old Harry Shindler, a Second World War veteran who lives in Italy, and lawyer and Belgian resident Jacquelyn MacLennan against the UK Government’s decision to exclude British people who have lived elsewhere in the European Union for more than 15 years, from voting in June.

Lawyers from law firm Leigh Day argued that under the EU Referendum Act 2015 up to 2 million British citizens are being unlawfully denied the right to vote on the UK’s continued membership of the EU.

They told the Court that if the vote in June is to leave the EU then all British citizens will lose their status as EU citizens. This means that those British citizens living outside the UK but in the EU will become “resident aliens” living and working abroad under sufferance rather than by right and no longer able to claim the protections of EU law .

The Court also heard arguments that the ’15 year rule’ acted as a penalty against British citizens for having exercised their free movement rights.

The rule prevented them from participating in a democratic process, the result of which might bring to an end the very EU law rights on which they rely and base their working and private lives every day.

Lawyers are sought an expedited hearing at the Court of Appeal to hear the challenge to the High Court ruling.

The full one day hearing was heard at the Court of Appeal on Monday 9th May 2016. The judgment is awaited.

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