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Press release

Bremain in Spain comments on being denied the vote three times

Marchers from Bremain in Spain
Marchers from Bremain in Spain
May 27, 2019, Valencia, Spain. Press Dispensary. Driven by the shared ambition to stop Brexit, many members of campaign group, Bremain in Spain ( ( ), voted in the recent EU elections. Some were voting for the first time, after being encouraged to take this rare opportunity to have their voices heard.

British citizens living in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, could elect to vote in their ‘home’ or ‘host’ country. To express their feelings about Brexit, Bremain members largely chose to vote in the UK. However, those who were disenfranchised from voting in the UK, because of the 15 year rule, elected to vote in Spain instead.

Sue Wilson, chair of Bremain in Spain, said: “Many more British citizens living in Spain would have cast their votes here, but they needed to register with the local authorities back in January to be eligible. Understandably, many didn’t register by this deadline, as they believed the UK would leave the EU on March 29. This would have negated their EU citizenship and voting rights.”

She continues: “British voters in Spain were made welcome at polling booths, and found the process quick and easy. The Spanish have always treated us with respect, and have helped us integrate into European society. Unfortunately, the treatment of EU citizens in the UK does not reflect that same level of consideration.”

“It became apparent on Thursday 23 May, when EU elections were taking place in the UK, that many EU citizens were being turned away at polling stations. In some areas, councils were suggesting that EU citizens were not registered, or that another form should have been completed – even when people insisted they had completed the correct forms.”

“As a result, hundreds of thousands of legal, hard-working citizens were refused their legitimate voting rights and treated like second-class citizens. For many of these citizens, it would have been their first opportunity to express their views about Brexit and the UK government, at the polling booth, having been denied a vote during the EU referendum and in the 2017 general election as well.”

The scale of the issue soon became apparent, and within hours #DeniedMyVote was trending on Twitter.

Says Sue: “It soon became clear across Europe, and further afield, that British citizens living abroad were also being disenfranchised. Postal voting papers failed to arrive in time to be completed and returned, or simply never arrived. Some councils seemingly outsourced delivery to a third party, which inexplicably sent ballot papers via the Netherlands. Other councils didn’t try to issue ballot papers, citing resourcing issues or blaming short notice of the UK’s participation in the EU elections. It would have been easier to swallow this situation if they’d confessed to it beforehand!”

Wilson concludes: “We Brits in Spain are excluded at every turn – the majority no longer have any voting rights and we’re continually excluded from the debate. We’re a mere afterthought in Westminster. Constantly, obstacles are put in our way. Once was frustrating, twice was annoying. Now this is the third time in three years that our democratic rights have been obstructed. It’s starting to feel like a plan, not an accident.”

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Notes for editors
Bremain in Spain is a pro-European group campaigning to protect the rights of British migrants living and working in the European Union. The group believes the best way to guarantee the protection of all existing rights and freedoms is to #StopBrexit. It supports the #PeoplesVote campaign to give the public a final say on the Brexit deal. Bremain in Spain is a not-for-profit association headed by chair, Sue Wilson, and run by a dedicated team of volunteers. It is a member of Britain for Europe, a partner of European Movement and one of a coalition of UK citizens’ groups, British in Europe.

For further information please contact
Sue Wilson, Chair
Bremain in Spain
Jo Chipchase
Press Officer
Tel: + 34 696 056 328

Alastair Stewart
Deputy Press Officer
Tel: + 44 7549 504281

Facebook: Bremain in Spain
Twitter: @BremainInSpain

Published for Bremain in Spain by Press Dispensary
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