PM’s boost for Yes vote in Brexit deal for EU migrants
Rights in any second independence poll
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
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.”
at the vote