Today may be the last time UK citizens vote in European parliamentary elections. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the breadth of cases we’ve seen on CrowdJustice since the 2016 Referendum, it’s that our relationship with the EU continues to divide opinion across the spectrum.
With voters casting their ballots across Europe today, we provide our assessment of the impact of Brexit, and take another look at how cases on CrowdJustice have helped shape the conversation concerning Brexit and our wider voting rights.
Our last vote on Europe?
Since 1979, MEPs have been directly elected by EU citizens every five years. With an estimated 400 million eligible voters, it’s one of the biggest democratic processes in the world. Over the next few days, 700 politicians are going to be elected to become Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and sit in its official base in Strasbourg.
But this group is about to get a little smaller. There are many who feel like these elections shouldn’t even be happening in the UK, even now, but without a withdrawal agreement, we remain a core part of the EU parliament - for the short term at least.
Leaving the EU hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride. We were supposed to leave on the 29th March 2019, but Parliament has consistently rejected the proposed withdrawal agreement and our exit day has now been postponed until 31st October.
These elections are the first chance in a long time for UK voters to have a say at the polls, and we’re expecting the results to be a litmus test for how the public is feeling about Brexit now, almost three years after the Referendum.
Brexit in the courtroom
To get a full picture of what’s going on with Brexit however, we need to look beyond the ballot box. Some of the most interesting developments shaping Brexit have come through the courts.
Amid findings by the Electoral Commission that the official leave campaign breached electoral laws, Kyle Taylor and Fair Vote UK are questioning the legitimacy of the result in the 2016 vote. They’re heading to court on October to seek permission for a judicial review of the Government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into the 2016 Referendum result. They’ve raised £115,000 on CrowdJustice.
Another group - which wants a pathway to a negotiated exit - is seeking judicial review of the controversial Irish “backstop” arrangement, which has consistently featured in the Prime Minister’s attempts to pass her withdrawal deal through Parliament. However, as political circumstances are changing, the group is taking stock of the proposed legal action while maintaining its CrowdJustice page in the meantime.
Making voices heard
Considering our demotratic rights more widely, Neil Coughlan is challenging a pilot scheme requiring voters to show ID at local government elections. He believes that putting up any barriers to voting will suppress turnout and participation in the democratic process - disproportionately impacting vulnerable and young people in particular.
Neil raised £33,000 on CrowdJustice from almost 2,000 donations. The High Court deemed the case arguable, but concluded that the pilot was within the Government’s power. Neil has since said that he’ll go to the Court of Appeal.
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