LONDON – Most citizens of other European Union countries living in Britain will not get to vote in a planned referendum on Britain’s membership of the bloc, the government said on Monday.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who has promised to renegotiate Britain’s EU ties ahead of a vote by the end of 2017, will embark on a tour of five European capitals later this week to hold talks with key EU leaders over his reform plans.
Cameron’s office said only those eligible to vote in British national elections, plus members of the upper house of Parliament and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar, will get a say in the EU referendum.
That means British, Irish, Maltese, Cypriot and other Commonwealth citizens aged over 18 and resident in the U.K., as well as U.K. nationals who have lived overseas for less than 15 years, will be able to vote, but no other EU nationals.
“This is a big decision for our country, one that is about the future of the United Kingdom. That’s why we think it’s important that it is British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens that are the ones who get to decide,” a source in Cameron’s office said.
Citizens of other EU nations living in Britain are allowed to vote in local council and European elections.
The government will introduce its EU referendum legislation to Parliament on Thursday as Cameron, whose Conservatives were elected with a surprise majority earlier this month, embarks on a diplomatic charm offensive across Europe.
Cameron launched his reform drive at a summit of EU and ex-Soviet states in Latvia last week, saying he was confident of winning concessions although it would not be easy.
The British leader will travel to Denmark for a working breakfast with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Thursday before heading to the Netherlands for talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte. He will have dinner with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee palace in Paris.
On Friday Cameron will meet Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz in Warsaw and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
Cameron, who is hosting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for talks at his official country residence on Monday, hopes to speak with all 27 EU leaders individually before a European Council meeting at the end of June where he is expected to set out his reform plans in more detail.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.