By Jo O’Reilly
THURROCK residents born in Ireland and other Commonwealth nations may lose their right to vote if a controversial change in law takes place before the next election.
Under current election regulations British residents born in Commonwealth countries and Ireland, can vote in UK elections as long as they reside in the UK.
Both The Times and The Irish Post reported that senior Tory backbenchers, headed by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, are pushing for an emergency change in the law that would see those born in Commonwealth nations lose their right to vote ahead of the general election in May.
The change in law would also affect 345,000 Irish members of the electorate nationally, as well as those born in other Commonwealth nations including India, Pakistan and Australia.
If successful this change in law could have a dramatic impact in Thurrock on election day, at the last census 1100 residents of the town classed themselves as Irish, The sitting MP, Jackie Doyle Price has a majority of just 92.
The Labour candidate for Thurrock, Polly Billington said:
“There are many second and third generation Irish in Thurrock who have contributed a lot to our community. There is only a small number of Irish living and working in Thurrock who have had the right to vote for decades. And this is a mutual arrangement. Brits living in Ireland can vote there too. This is just the Tories trying to alter the electorate, there is no need to change this longstanding tradition”
The Labour candidate for South Basildon and East Thurrock, Mike Le Surf said:
"It looks like the Tories are now in election panic mode. This historic arrangement with our Irish citizens is reciprocal and welcome. As with citizens from the Commonwealth people have the right to vote in general elections in Britain. It’s a very cynical move by the Conservatives at this time."
However, there were those who felt it was a vestige of the past. James O’Sullivan said: "I am a second generation immigrant but this right is a vestige of the past. Times have changed, politics and migration trends have changed".
YT contacted both Conservative candidates, Jackie Doyle-Price and Stephen Metcalfe as well as Ukip candidate, Tim Aker but they did not respond.