DISENFRANCHISED






On 1st February the European Parliament held a hearing into citizen’s rights after Brexit where representatives of the 3 million EU citizens living in UK and the million UK residents of European member states gave evidence along with many others involved in the debate including MEPs and Commission representatives. 

I was sorry not to be able to attend this hearing and am grateful to all who spoke of the disenfranchisement of UK citizens living in Europe (and beyond) who lose their vote after 15 years and thus had no vote in the referendum or the General Election. Despite years of promises neither the Government or opposition have put forward any new proposals to remedy this situation which is now even more urgent as the calls for a referendum on the final Brexit deal or the possibility of another General Election grow every day. In a situation where we are facing being stripped of our rights as European citizens it is even more unjust that we were given no say in this decision and continue to have no vote or voice in any future referendum or General Election. 

Along with many others (in particular Mr Harry Shindler) I have been campaigning for the repeal of the 15 year rule since 2012 when my petition was admitted to the EP petitions committee. The demands were accepted and included in the  2013 Citizenship Report and the Cameron Government included the repeal of the 15 year rule in its 2014 Manifesto. My petition was last debated in the Petitions Committee 2 weeks before the referendum when the attendant MEPS could only commiserate with the Government's failure to uphold their Manifesto promise and hope it would not be bad news. The result was indeed bad news and continues to be so. I continue to appeal to Westminster to act in the name of democratic justice and restore our vote and look to the European Parliament to help give us a much needed voice in this demand.  

In the year that we celebrate 100 years since women gained the vote (note, not all women) it remains a stain on our democratic institutions that UK citizens are denied their right to a vote.  I would add my belief that EU citizen’s long term resident in the UK should also be allowed to vote on their own future. They are legal, tax paying, collaborative and welcome members of our communities and should have a democratic voice in any future referendum.



DISENFRANCHISED


I am a second class citizen,
one of millions, the disenfranchised in 
a plebiscite now deemed ‘the people’s will’.
Denied a vote the most affected,
we with lives enriched by the demonised,
despised ‘freedom to move’  
a right to be removed from the young,
born Europeans, now choked silent. 

Whoever once imagined progress ending,
a world where rights are threatened,
where on an arbitrary date we become
third country nationals, foreigners,
stripped not just of rights but identity.
Whoever thought our children could lose
the freedoms we enjoyed, whilst billionaire
Leavers buy their passports stamped hypocrisy.

Still I have no vote as our Governments
declare suffrage reversible not universal.
This from the country vocal in its pride,
taken as a template, admired worldwide
for its history of justice and democracy.
To our disgrace the people’s will was won on lies
abetted by those who gain from chaos while
we the people likewise, pay the price.



© 2018 Jacqueline Claire Knight.  All rights reserved. 






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