David Cameron has been accused of bias by a senior Brexit campaigner after promising to force through legislation to extend the deadline for registering to vote in the EU referendum. It follows the chaotic collapse of a government website on Tuesday night as 250,000 people tried to apply in the final hours before the midnight deadline. The prime minister urged the public to keep on submitting their details, saying he was working urgently to ensure they would be able to take part in the referendum. MPs are to vote on Thursday on a 48-hour extension to the deadline to register, which is expected to allow tens of thousands more people to vote on 23 June. The new deadline would be midnight on Thursday.
The pro-Brexit Tory Bernard Jenkin, chair of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, questioned why the government was failing to put in the same effort to find misregistered EU citizens who had been issued polling cards.
“The government is having to rewrite the rules to clear up a shambles of their own making. Why are they are not acting with the same vigour over weeding out misregistered EU nationals who have been sent polling cards and even postal ballots, but who are not eligible?” Jenkin said.
He warned that if the referendum result was close, the decision could be challenged by a judicial review because of the deadline’s extension. Political observers said many of those who could not register were younger voters, who tend to support the remain camp.