Britain's highest court on Tuesday rejected a challenge by two expats to a rule denying votes in a referendum on Britain's EU membership to people living outside Britain and not registering to vote for more than 15 years.
Belgian-based lawyer Jacquelyn MacLennan and Italian resident Harry Shindler, a 94-year-old retired man, had argued that the rule on eligibility to vote in the June 23 referendum restricted their right to freedom of movement under EU law, "in a manner that is not objectively justifiable."
But the Supreme Court backed a ruling by two judges and an appeal court that the British parliament had complied with EU law and had adopted a "more generous provision" applicable in parliamentary elections to allow non-residents to vote if they have lived abroad for less than 15 years.
Up to two million expats could be affected by the 15-year cut-off, according to the campaigners.
Most EU citizens resident in Britain are barred from voting in the in-out referendum on the country's EU membership.
Only EU citizens from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus qualify to vote in the referendum, with an estimated 1.5 million EU citizens denied a vote.