As with the big independence decision itself, the issue of whether Scottish citizens living outside their homeland should be allowed to vote on the country’s future is the source of fevered debate. An estimated 1.15 million Scots will be watching from the sidelines on Thursday when the country decides whether or not to break away from the United Kingdom — including many high-profile campaigners such as James Bond actor Sean Connery, a pro-independence champion. While many accept the terms of the referendum agreed by London and Edinburgh which only allows current residents of Scotland to vote, others are furious that they will have no say on Scotland’s future, with some declaring their exclusion illegal.
In March, London-based solicitor Aidan O’Neill sent Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and British Prime Minister David Cameron legal opinion arguing that the terms violated Scottish expats’ right to freedom of movement under European law. The challenge was backed by former Scotland rugby player Kenny Logan and national football manager Alex McLeish.
But the Scottish government dismissed it, saying the agreement between London and Edinburgh “has put the referendum beyond effective legal challenge”.
Some of the Scottish diaspora in the European Union — which guarantees free movement of citizens — are concerned that they may become illegal immigrants if the EU blocks moves for it to become a member in the event of a “Yes” victory.