Immigrant voting rights warning

More than one million Commonwealth immigrants - who have not qualified for British citizenship - could vote in the next General Election, campaign group Migration Watch UK has warned.

Voting 'reflects close historical Commonwealth ties'

The Cabinet Office said the right to vote in UK elections for Commonwealth citizens who live in the country "reflects our close historical ties with Commonwealth countries."

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "Excluding Commonwealth citizens would be a significant step and would require careful consideration.

A voter places a ballot paper in the ballot box.
The Cabinet Office said the policy 'reflects our close historical ties with Commonwealth countries.' Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

"Parliament has previously taken the view that these rights should not be changed."

Read: Immigrant voting rights warning

Immigrants could 'significantly influence' election

Migration Watch UK said Commonwealth immigrants who have not qualified for British citizenship could "significantly influence" the next General Election if voting is close.

Chairman Sir Andrew Green said:

One example is that a student visitor from a Commonwealth country planning to study for six months would be allowed to enrol on the electoral register and vote in a parliamentary election if one was held during the duration of his or her stay.

This is clearly absurd. The issue is one of basic fairness.

If people want to participate in deciding the future of our country they should at least become citizens.

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Migration Watch UK issues voting rights warning

More than one million Commonwealth immigrants - who have not qualified for British citizenship - could vote in the next General Election, a campaign group has warned.

Commonwealth citizens - from 54 independent sovereign states, including Australia, Canada and India - can register on the electoral roll upon arrival in the UK as long as they have an address.

Two people walk out of a polling station.
Migration Watch UK says more than one million Commonwealth immigrants could vote in 2015. Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Migration Watch UK estimates that by the next General Election in 2015 there will be more than one million Commonwealth citizens who do not have British citizenship with the right to vote.

British citizens do not have similar rights in Commonwealth countries, except for a few Caribbean states, the group added.