An MP has made an impassioned plea with the government to ensure that European citizens living in the United Kingdom are able to vote in the European elections.
It follows the news that just 0.01% of those eligible to vote from EU countries had returned an important form to confirm they only intend to vote in the United Kingdom and not their home country.
Mike Gapes, a Change UK MP, has made an intervention in the House of Commons as he announced he would be tabling an Early Day Motion (EDM) to ensure that all European citizens were informed of the elections and that copies of the forms were made available at the polling station.
It has so far been signed by 24 MPs including representatives from all the main parties in the House of Common, with more MPs encouraged to sign it.
Explaining why he had tabled the motion, Gapes told MPs: “It has been apparent for some months that is was almost certain that we would be fighting the European elections, but as a result of the late confirmation, a large number of local authorities have failed to send out forms or adequately ensure that the millions of EU citizens in the UK entitled to vote will be able to vote on 23 May.”
The intervention was supported by campaigners from the New Europeans, a leading civil rights organisation based in Brussel and London, who have been promoting the issue since the last set of European elections in 2014.
Roger Casale, a former Labour MP and the founder of New Europeans, has written to David Lidington calling on the government to take remedial action but has so far not received a response.
He said: “I am not surprised the government is burying its head in the sand. Any reasonable and democratically minded person would want to do everything possible to increase participation in elections. The government has done the reverse.”
He added: “EU citizens did not have the right to vote in the EU referendum but they do have the right to vote in the EU elections. It is vitally important that EU citizens participate in large numbers and make their voices heard.”
Gapes now plans to table a question to ask the government if it intends to respond to the demands from the New Europeans, and what action it will take to support European citizens in the elections ahead of May 23rd.