A group of 13 UK expats, led by 96-year-old British war veteran and expat campaigner Harry Shindler, are attempting to have the European Council’s Brexit negotiation guidelines annulled through the European Court of Justice as they fight the UK’s plans to leave European Union.
As reported previously, the group led Schindler, a World War 2 veteran, tried to stop the original Brexit vote as he believed that he and hundreds of thousand of other expats were being discriminated against as they were not allowed to vote in the referendum.
Those living outside of the UK or longer than 15 years are not allowed to vote in any UK elections, including the controversial Brexit vote.
The previous legal battle saw the campaigners asked the High Court to declare Section 2 of the EU Referendum Act 2015, which established a 15-year rule for overseas voters, as illegal, because it unlawfully restricted their right to freedom of movement under EU law. The action was dismissed by the High Court in London.
Now the group is using the legal system again in an attempt to reverse the go-ahead to negotiate Brexit given by the remaining EU27 by targeting parts of their written guidelines in a bid to enforce a Brexit reversal. The group say the European Council has created a group of what it calls “second-class citizens” who have been deprived of a vote and therefore their voice.
According to a report in today’s Express, the group’s latest case alleges “formal illegality of the Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for an agreement setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal from the European Union”.
The current campaign by the group focuses on the EU’s nuclear trade body Euratom are the focus of one of the group’s arguments, with their case declaring separation from the Treaty should be overseen by separate negotiations.
The Express report said that the case reads: “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.”
Also coming under challenge is the Council’s decision to allow the “withdrawal procedure to [be] initiated without expatriate European citizens having had the opportunity to set our their views on the possible loss of their European citizenship”.
Shindler and his 12 fellow applicants say a “category of second-class citizens” has been created in Europe because Britons who have lived outside of UK for over 15 years were unable to vote.
They claim expats have been “deprived of their right to 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”.
Shindler, who lives in the eastern Italian resort of Porto d’Ascoli, is a long-time campaigner for expat rights. Having lived in Italy for over 35 years he recently shunned the chance to take up citizenship in order to continue his fight for a vote for expats, the report said.