PM’s boost for Yes vote in Brexit deal for EU mi­grants

Rights in any se­cond in­de­pen­dence poll

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

sum­mer, said: “The EU does not plan to main­tain the ex­ist­ing vot­ing rights for UK na­tion­als liv­ing in the EU.

“We have made it clear we stand ready to pro­tect the rights of EU na­tion­als liv­ing in the UK to stand and vote in mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions.”

This of­fer comes amid horse­trad­ing over other rights, such as health­care and fam­ily re­union for mi­grants, both EU cit­i­zens in the UK and the 1.2 mil­lion Bri­tons who live on the Con­ti­nent.

Mi­grants cur­rently have the right to vote in mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions and in polls for the de­volved assem­blies but not in Gen­eral Elec­tions, or last year’s Brexit ref­er­en­dum.

They were, how­ever, able to take part in Scot­land’s 2014 vote. For­eign na­tion­als el­i­gi­ble to vote were slightly less likely to sup­port in­de­pen­dence in 2014 than the na­tional av­er­age, with just un­der 43 per cent against.

But last month the Scot­tish Cen­tre on Euro­pean Re­la­tions (SCER) pub­lished an ex­pert re­port sug­gest­ing that re­vers­ing those num­bers would close the gap be­tween the two sides, as of 2014, by two per­cent­age points.

Some ex­perts be­lieve the mi­grant vote could swing be­hind Yes.

How­ever, there is no polling to back this spec­u­la­tion up and there may well be mi­grant groups who ei­ther carry anti-separatist sen­ti­ments from their home coun­tries – such as Spain or Ro­ma­nia – or who feel they have moved to Bri­tain and want to re­main in the UK.

SCER di­rec­tor and Brus­sels think­tank vet­eran Kirsty Hughes, who com­mis­sioned last month’s re­search, said keep­ing the cur­rent fran­chise may ap­pear a mi­nor con­ces­sion amid com­plex ne­go­ti­a­tions.

But she said: “For Scot­tish pol­i­tics

it could prove sig­nif­i­cant.”

There are around 180,000 EU cit­i­zens in Scot­land, in­clud­ing chil­dren, short of the num­ber needed to over­turn the 400,000 ad­van­tage for No recorded three years ago.

Polls would need to nar­row for EU na­tion­als to swing an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum. The two most re­cent sur­veys put sup­port for in­de­pen­dence at 46 per cent, al­most un­changed from the 45 per cent

highly recorded

2014.

SNP sources are also de­lighted at the prospect of EU na­tion­als keep­ing the vote in Holy­rood elec­tions.

Alyn Smith, the SNP MEP, said: “Our def­i­ni­tion of Scot­tish is ev­ery­one who lives in Scot­land.

“We cel­e­brate the con­tri­bu­tion new Scots have made to our so­ci­ety and econ­omy.

“We want to see all EU na­tion­als feel safe and wel­come in Scot­land, and hav­ing a vote is an im­por­tant part of that.”

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