Expats appeal to High Court for EU referendum vote

British expats claim that a Brexit could adversely affect their way of life. Credit: Reuters

British expatriates who want to be allowed to vote in the EU referendum will have their challenge heard in the High Court later this month.

Harry Shindler, a Second World War veteran who lives in Italy, and Belgian resident Jacquelyn MacLennan claim that under the EU Referendum Act 2015, they are being denied the right to vote on the UK's continued membership of the EU.

Mr Shindler, 94, said the legal challenge was the "last stand" for expats who are concerned about how a Brexit could affect their way of life.

"It would have very serious repercussions for all expats and their families here," he said.

"I came [to Italy] in 1982 when you had to have a permit from the police to stay here. All that would come back. We would be immigrants here."

British campaigners show their support for continued membership of the EU. Credit: PA Wire

According to law firm Leigh Day, which is representing both Mr Shindler and Ms MacLennan, up to two million British citizens living in other EU countries could be barred from taking part in the 23 June vote.

Richard Stein, a lawyer for the claimants, said:

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said the franchise for the EU referendum was debated and agreed by both Houses of Parliament.

"Scrapping the 15-year rule for overseas electors is a manifesto pledge which the Government remains committed to delivering - it is not connected to the referendum," she said.