EU Referendum Voting Outlined

By Rowan Williams
  • – No. 10 sets out voting rules in EU referendum
  • – Malaysian police find 139 migrant graves
  • – China opens 1,043 projects to private investors
  • – NI First Minister suffers suspected heart attack


Most foreign citizens from the EU living in the UK will not be entitled to vote in a UK referendum on EU membership, the government has said. The nature of the election will be more similar to a general election than local or EU parliament elections, with citizens from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus the only EU citizens entitled to vote. Citizens from Commonwealth nations would also be allowed to vote. 16 and 17-year-olds will not be permitted to vote, a move opposed by the Labour Party, Scottish National Party, and Liberal Democrats, though this ruling could be amended in the House of Lords. A comprehensive setting out of the rules of eligibility for voters will be laid out on Thursday in parliament with the announcement of the EU Referendum Bill. The Conservative Party has promised a referendum before the end of 2017. The news comes as Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to hold talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker later on Monday. Cameron will go on to meet with other EU leaders this week, as he begins his attempt to reform Britain’s relationship with Europe.

Malaysian police have found a total of 139 suspected migrant graves near the country’s border with Thailand, police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has said. The graves were found near 28 human trafficking camps along the border. It is feared that the dead could be migrants and refugees from Bangladesh and Burma’s Rohingya minority – migrant groups at the centre of South-East Asia’s current human trafficking crisis. After initial wariness, countries in the region including Indonesia and Malaysia have said they will take in migrants stranded in boats in surrounding seas. More than 3,000 migrants have been rescued or have swum ashore to Malaysia and Indonesia in the past month. Thai authorities had cracked down on traffickers using land routes through the country, causing traffickers to move migrants by sea instead. The unearthed migrant graves had been found near known land trafficking routes.

China has opened up a list of proposed projects to private investors, the country’s state planning agency has announced. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has disclosed a list of 1,043 projects, with a value totalling US$318 billion, open for private investors to help fund, build, and operate. Sectors include transport, water conservancy and public services, and will be done as public-private partnerships. It is not currently known if the offer will be open to foreign firms. It is hoped the model of public-private partnerships will help fill a funding gap as authorities try to rein in local government debt.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, has been admitted to hospital with a suspected heart attack.

The Papers

The details of a future UK referendum on Britain’s EU membership make a few headlines today, while Greece’s debt repayments also receive some headline space. The Daily Telegraph leads with news that migrants to the UK will be “barred” from voting in the referendum, in what is being seen as a key concession to Eurosceptics fearing migrant votes may ‘skew’ the result. The Independent writes in its headline that the Prime Minister will also “deny 16 and 17-year-olds EU vote”. Labour, the Scottish National Party, and Liberal Democrats have all opposed the government in its blocking of a “teenage vote”. The Guardian leads with news that Greece is threatening “default on €1.6bn IMF debt repayment”. According to the paper, Greece has told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it is unable to “satisfy conditions at the same time as paying wages and pensions”. The Financial Times writes in its headline that Greece will default “unless bailout deal is done”. Pensions and wages must take “priority” for the government, the paper writes. Last month’s repayment was only made by a further IMF loan, the paper reports. The Times leads with news of the “Rising fears of chemical attack by UK jihadists”. Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria have turned to “bombs laced with chlorine”, the paper reports, prompting fears that such a weapon could be used in the UK.

British Media on China

On official visits to prisons: some Chinese officials have been sent on tours of prisons in attempt to discourage corruption, The Guardian and Financial Times have reported. The Financial Times writes that the tactic hopes to “scare officials straight”. China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection “has organised the prison visits nationwide”, the paper writes. China’s public, however, have “found much to laugh at” in the scheme. The Guardian’s agency piece writes that “Some Chinese internet users applauded the scheme while others reacted with derision”.

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