British expats in EU launch Brexit legal dispute

British expats living in Spain, France and Italy launched a legal challenge on Tuesday against the 2016 referendum, arguing Leave campaign broke electoral laws, therefore making the Brexit vote unconstitutional.

British expats in EU launch Brexit legal dispute
Photo: AFP

The legal challenge was presented by pro-EU advocacy group “UK in EU Challenge”, which represents Britons living in France, Italy and Spain.

The group submitted on Tuesday a judicial review against Prime Minister Theresa May at London’s High Court, arguing that the recent Electoral Commission findings on BeLeave and Vote Leave mean that the UK referendum to leave the EU was not a legal, fair or free vote.

In a statement on its website, UK in EU Challenge wrote “recent revelations show beyond reasonable doubt that the Leave campaign cheated in the Brexit referendum”.

“The Electoral Commission found “beyond reasonable doubt” that Vote Leave, the official campaign, cheated on its spending limit by almost £700,000 (6 percent).

“In a general election, local authority election or local authority referendum the courts can declare the vote null and void if there has been cheating of exactly this type,” the website reads.

The case presented by Croft Solicitors, the legal team representing the four British expats in question, argues Theresa May’s decision to trigger Article 50 was not in line with the U.K.’s “constitutional requirements”.



One of the four named claimants is Elinore Grayson, a British expat living in France. 

“It is fundamental that illegal intervention in British elections does not go unchecked,” she is quoted as saying by The Guardian.

“The principle of nullity when a decision was made on incorrect or misleading facts is a longstanding one and we wish to ensure that continues to apply at this crucial time.

“Many people across the EU, myself included, are reliant on bestowed rights to live their daily lives; there must be zero tolerance when it comes to cheating, misrepresentation and non-disclosure of information.”

The British government is resisting the group’s legal action on the grounds that it is “out of time” and that a similar appeal has already been dismissed.

But Croft Solicitors argues the claim isn’t outdated as only last July the Electoral Commission found that BeLeave spent £675,000 of undeclared money.

Almost 80 percent of the estimated 1 to 2 million Brits living in EU countries are of working age or younger.

Many of these expats fear their livelihoods and freedom to move around Europe are under threat, a sentiment the group UK in EU Challenge shares.

“The most important Court challenge yet. UK citizens living in the EU, your rights are in very serious jeopardy- so too for EU citizens in the UK. All are affected,” reads a Facebook post by the group.


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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.