Equality campaigner Trevor Phillips urges Nicola Sturgeon to allow ALL Scots in UK to get a vote in any independence referendum or risk ‘torpedoing’ any future attempt for Scotland to join the EU
- Mr Phillips said that excluding thousands of Scots from voting would be unfair
- Also suggested it contradicts SNP’s own definition of who is a Scottish citizen
- Issue is highly controversial as it could sway the result of a future referendum
Nicola Sturgeon must allow Scots living elsewhere in the UK to vote in any independence referendum or risk torpedoing a future attempt to join the EU on human rights grounds, equality campaigner Trevor Phillips said today.
Mr Phillips noted that the party’s official definition of who would count as a citizen of an independent nation includes ‘Scottish-born British citizens currently living outside of Scotland’.
Recognising these people’s Scottish citizenship but not allowing them a role in deciding the fate of their own country would be unfair, the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission insisted.
Considering would happen immediately after independence, he wrote in The Times: ‘Would they welcome having a citizenship they did not ask for imposed on them? Would they be required, like expatriate US citizens are, to pay taxes to Holyrood? Might they be forced to choose between nationalities without any say in the decision?
‘Or would they potentially be stateless if the remaining parts of the UK simply decided that the Scots needed to look after their own — a scenario that would torpedo any Scottish application for membership of the EU on human rights grounds.’
Trevor Phillips (left) says it would be unfair for Nicola Sturgeon (right) to deny Scots who live in other parts of the UK a chance to vote on independence
Under the terms of the 2014 referendum, only voters who are registered in Scotland were allowed to vote.
This excluded some half a million Scottish-born people living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted he will not allow a new independence referendum under his premiership, but Mr Phillips believes he may be forced to.
If these people were included it would be almost impossible for the Yes vote to win, the equality campaigner said.
He referenced a poll of 7,884 Scots living in different parts of the UK, which found that – out of the 40% entitled to vote, the margin in favour of no was 58 to 42.
But out of the 60 percent not eligible to vote, there was an even larger 41 percentage point lead for the Unionists.
Mr Phillips added: ‘Opinion may have moved on, but it is likely that a further half a million votes might be added to the unionist cause, making a defeat for independence certain.’
Scottish nationalists are determined to block their compatriots outside Scotland from voting because of the harm this could do to their cause.
Scottish nationalists are determined to block their compatriots outside Scotland from voting because of the harm this could do to their cause. Pictured is an independence rally in Glasgow
Last month, Michael Gove triggered uproar among the SNP after commenting that the move was an ‘interesting idea’.
He was responding to a message posted by fellow Scot George Galloway, who argued that “795,000 Scots living elsewhere in the UK MUST have a vote” if there is another separation referendum.
His comments infuriated separatists including the SNP’s Constitution Minister Mike Russell, who accused the Tory minister of trying to gerrymander the vote following a poll showing 55 per cent support for independence.
Others are opposed to changing the voting criteria due to the difficulty of deciding who counts as a citizen of Scotland, as this could potentially include millions of people outside the country who have Scottish relatives.
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