Borders MP Calum Kerr wants votes for EU nationals living in Borders

Borders MP Calum Kerr: 'They pay the same taxes'

Borders MP Calum Kerr: 'They pay the same taxes'

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Borders MP Calum Kerr says he will keep up the pressure on the Conservative government at Westminster to allow EU nationals living in the UK a vote in the forthcoming in-out referendum.

An SNP amendment in those terms, which also sought to extend the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds, was defeated when the EU Referendum Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

But Mr Kerr says he will now write to minister for Europe David Lidington after it was confirmed by the Assessor’s Department at Scottish Borders Council that there are now 1,739 EU citizens on the region’s electoral register.

As such, the migrants were entitled to vote in last year’s Scottish independence referendum and can participate in Scottish Parliament, local government and European Parliament elections.

“People from other member states of the EU have every right to be in Scotland and certainly, here in the Borders, they help enrich our communities,” said Mr Kerr.

“They pay the same taxes as everyone else and make an important contribution to our region’s economy and society.

“It is absolutely outrageous that more than 1,700 EU citizens in the Borders who were able to have their say on the future of Scotland last September are going to be barred from a vote on their ability to live and work here.

“It’s also a completely bizarre ruling because our resident EU nationals can, quite properly, already vote in Scottish Parliament, local council and European Parliament elections.

“As a result of this completely unnecessary forthcoming referendum on Europe, forced on us because of the Tories’ fear of UKIP, these people now face the threat of effectively being evicted from this country against their will.

“That would be completely unjust and bad for them, bad for the Borders and bad for Scotland. Surely the very least they deserve is a say in that process.”

He added that he hoped “wiser counsel” would prevail as the bill progresses towards enactment.

“I have asked Mr Lidington to intervene and support votes for the estimated 1.5 million EU citizens living in the UK,” said Mr Kerr.