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Ex-pat Scots citizens demand vote in referendum on independence

Scottish citizens living abroad are demanding the right to be allowed to vote in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, and are willing to instigate legal action against the Scottish Government if they don't expand the eligible vote criteria, reports Reuters.

One million Scottish citizens live outside of Scotland, with many settled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They are demanding the right to a vote in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, and are willing to take the Scottish Government to court over their plans to ban those living outside of Scotland from having a say.

The Scottish National Party, or SNP, has decided that the franchise for the referendum, which will be held on 18 September 2014, will include anyone currently living in Scotland over the age of 16.

The result is that more than 80% of the current 5.2m living in Scotland will have a say over whether Scotland should be an independent country, moving it outside of the United Kingdom.

The result of the way the voting rules have been drawn up mean that around 1.15m Scottish citizens currently living in the rest of the UK, or abroad in America, Canada or elsewhere, will not be given a say on Scotland's future.

Reuters spoke to James Wallace, a trainee lawyer currently living in England.

"It's ridiculous, quite frankly, that Scottish soldiers based in England, 10 out of 11 Scottish Olympians and international rugby players who played for Scotland all their careers, cannot vote," he said.

Ex-pat Scots are up in arms because the rules mean that a foreign-born citizen in Scotland transiently, say to study for a degree, will have a vote in Scotland's future, but born-and-bred Scots living abroad will not, even if they plan to return home in future.

It is thought a legal challenge could be mounted on the basis of EU law because citizenship and legal rights could be affected by a 'yes' vote for independence.