How many EU citizens who were resident in the UK at the time, were excluded from the 2016 EU referendum specifically because they did not have British/Irish/Cypriot/Maltese citizenship?

(Not including those who would be excluded for other reasons, such as being below 18 years old.)

  • 7
    The expressions were excluded from the 2016 EU referendum and specifically because they did not have [B/I/C/M] nationality seem to imply that they had some right to vote at that referendum to begin with, but no UK or EU law grants such a right. You could as well be asking why Kim Jong Un was excluded from voting in the 2016 POTUS elections. Maybe you should change the wording of your question?
    – SJuan76
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 1:08
  • @SJuan76 - Sure, I could change "excluded" to "were not able to take part" but that would be wordier and wouldn't really change the fundamental meaning of my question. The group of people I'm referring to can take part in British local and MEP elections.
    – billpg
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 8:07
  • 3
    But they can take part in those elections because EU laws say that EU residents have the right to vote at local and European elections, in whatever the EU country they live in. But neither EU laws (nor, AFAIK, UK laws) grant EU residents the rights to vote in national elections or referendums, that is completely different issue.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 8:22
  • 1
    I'm not asking if the decision was moral or legal, but how many couldn't take part for this specific reason.
    – billpg
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 10:12

1 Answer 1


According to this source, there were an estimated 3.6 million EU nationals in the UK in 2016, of whom 2.4 million were in work. The BBC Suggests 2.9m and 2.15m. That gives between 0.75 and 1.5m not working - assuming roughly half of these are under 18, we end up with between 2.5 and 3.15 million people over 18.

ONS figures give a total population of 65.6m, of whom 81% are over 16*, so roughly 53m people of voting age.

Therefore it's roughly 5-6% of the population, depending which figures you believe...

Caveat: I don't know if those figures include people who have dual nationality, or Irish, Cypriot or Maltese citizenship, so it will probably be lower than that.

*As pointed out below, voting age is 18, but those ONS statistics don't break down 16-18 year olds.

  • Voting age for the referendum was 18, not 16. Good answer otherwise.
    – user
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 11:45
  • Yes, but the ONS stats didn't have details for over 18s, that was the closest I could find.
    – Nick C
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 11:49

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