A million Scots living outside of Scotland should be allowed to vote in a referendum this year on whether their country becomes an independent nation, one of them said on Monday as he sought backing for a legal challenge. James Wallace, a Scottish-born trainee lawyer who lives in England, is among the 1.15 million Scots who are excluded from the vote as they are not resident there. Anyone over the age of 16 living in Scotland – about 80 percent of the 5.2 million population – has the right to vote on September 18 either for independence or to remain part of the United Kingdom alongside England, Wales and Northern Ireland. That means 800,000 Scots living in the rest of the UK and others in large Scottish communities in countries such as the United States, Canada and Ireland will have no say.
“It’s ridiculous, quite frankly, that Scottish soldiers based in England, 10 out of 11 Scottish Olympians and international rugby players who played for Scotland all their careers, cannot vote,” Wallace, 26, told Reuters. Wallace is seeking support from other expatriates to take legal action, although his legal options are not yet clear.
Aidan O’Neill, a barrister specializing in EU law assisting Wallace, said both Scottish and European law could be used to argue that expatriate Scots were entitled to a vote because their citizenship and legal rights could be affected.
“The decision to exclude the Scots born non-resident (is) unlawful as a matter of common law, and contrary to fundamental common law constitutional rights implicit in any modern European democracy,” O’Neill told Reuters. “Human rights arguments may also come into play.”