Brits in Sweden will get to vote in EU referendum

Brits in Sweden will get to vote in EU referendum
Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged that Britain will hold a referendum on the EU. Photo: AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis
British nationals who have been living in Sweden for less than 15 years will be allowed to vote in the EU referendum, while most citizens from other EU countries who are living in the UK will have no say on whether the nation in the European Union, the British government has announced.

Prime Minister David Cameron made it an electoral pledge to hold a referendum on whether to stay within the EU, a vote that will take place by the end of 2017.

Now his office has announced who be able to vote in the referendum, and eligibility will be roughly the same as in a UK general election.

DEBATE: Give us a vote: we've got most to lose if UK quits

This means British nationals who have been living abroad for less than 15 years will have their say on whether or not the UK remains in the European Union.

But those living abroad for more than 15 years will not be allowed to vote on the future of the UK in Europe, the new voting criteria confirms. 

The move comes as a potential 'Brexit' remains a hot topic in European media.

Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström told The Local in an exclusive interview on Friday that it would be “a very serious blow to the entire EU” if the UK left.

"Unfortunately, I have also seen that the media picture has been very, very negative in the UK in a way that has raised some eyebrows elsewhere – that you can claim almost anything unopposed and that is sad. We have to hope that there will be a more nuanced debate,” she added.

INTERVIEW: 'We would miss Britain if they left'

The EU Referendum Bill will be officially announced after the Queen's speech on Wednesday, and legislation confirming the voting eligibility for the referendum will be introduced to Parliament on Thursday May 28th.

It is understood that Irish citizens living in the UK will also be eligible to vote as well as Commonwealth citizens including those from Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus.

In a statement released after the announcement, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said, "David Cameron has been true to his word to the people of Gibraltar and, as a British part of the EU, our voice will be heard as part of the franchise for this seminal exercise in democracy."

Around one million other EU nationals who are resident in the UK will not be allowed to vote in the referendum however.

British citizens under the age of 18 will also not be eligible to vote, provoking calls, led by the Scottish National Party, for the voting age to be lowered to 16. Over-16s were allowed to vote in the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014, as were EU nationals based in Scotland.

DEBATE: Will Brexit force Brits from Sweden?

Prime Minister David Cameron is due to meet with several European leaders this week to discuss EU reforms. He will meet with the leaders of Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland while also meeting with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker in the UK on Monday.

Many British residents abroad are likely to vote for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.

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