World, Europe

British expats challenge 2016 referendum in UK court

UK citizens living in the EU say Leave campaign broke electoral laws making vote unconstitutional

14.08.2018
British expats challenge 2016 referendum in UK court

By Muhammad Mussa

LONDON

British expats living in the EU on Tuesday launched a legal challenge against the 2016 EU referendum, arguing that electoral laws had been breached by the Leave campaign.

The legal challenge was launched by the pro-EU advocacy group U.K. in EU Challenge, which submitted a judicial review against Prime Minister Theresa May to the high court in London.

“Recent revelations show beyond reasonable doubt that the Leave campaign cheated in Brexit referendum,” the group said in a statement on its website, adding the Electoral Commission found “beyond reasonable doubt” that Vote Leave, the official campaign, cheated on its spending limit by almost £700,000 (6 percent).

“In a general election, local authority election or local authority referendum the courts can declare the vote null and void if there has been cheating of exactly this type,” it said.

According to the organization, the government is resisting the legal action, arguing that the launch of the challenge is out of time and that similar legal challenges in the past had been dismissed.

“What has the government proposed to do about this injustice? Nothing,” the group said, adding “the prime minister triggered Article 50 because she believed the referendum result was the ‘will of the people’. We now know she was wrong”.

As outlined in a letter written by Croft Solicitors, the legal team representing British expatriates, to the premier, the group argue that their case is that May’s decision to trigger Article 50 was not in line with the U.K.’s “constitutional requirements”, thus the decision of the 2016 referendum was “null and void”.

The group added that May needs to act on the recent findings that found the Leave campaign and its sister organizations had breached electoral laws and proposed a second referendum with rules more strictly enforced.

“This isn’t about ‘leave’ or ‘remain’. It’s about rights, fairness and democracy.”

Last month, the official Leave campaign and its junior partner, BeLeave, were fined by the Electoral Commission after it was discovered they had broken spending regulations of the electoral law. A number of individuals working for these organizations were referred to the police.

There have been growing calls for a second referendum on the final deal between Brussels and London, one that has yet to be agreed upon, and a plethora of pro-EU movements have launched what they call a ‘Peoples Vote” to ensure the public have a final say on whatever deal, or no deal, is reached between London and Brussels.

There are an estimated two million British citizens living in mainland Europe, 80 percent of whom are of working age or younger, according to British in Europe, another pro-EU organization representing Britons in Europe.

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