WHEN the show of hands went up in the council chamber last month, you didn’t have to strain to see who wasn’t supporting Camden Council’s motion backing the Remain campaign ahead of the EU referendum. On the Labour benches, only former mayor Roger Robinson and current deputy mayor Richard Cotton, pictured above, voted against.
But as the final verdict approaches, just 21 days to go now, Richard seems disillusioned by the whole debate and reveals today his intention to allow another former Labour mayor of Camden, the Italian-born Lazzaro Pietragnoli, to vote on his behalf. Lazzaro, enthusiastically pro-EU, is ineligible to take part due to his nationality. What’s interesting is that Richard says he will not instruct his colleague how to cast the ballot; a potential Leave vote now in the hands of a Remain supporter.
In a letter to the New Journal, Cllr Cotton said: “There is a democratic deficit in EU decision-making but for me there is also a serious democratic deficit in the franchise for this referendum. There are three million citizens of other EU countries living, working and paying tax in this country yet they are not allowed to vote in the referendum. Moreover, neither of the referendum campaigns have been clear enough about how their status will affected in the event of Brexit.”
He added: “It is ridiculous that my friend and colleague Lazzaro Pietragnoli – an elected Camden councillor – doesn’t have a vote. Whatever, happens on 23rd June will not make much difference to my life but it might to his. I have therefore applied to vote by proxy and have nominated Lazzaro as my proxy with no instruction as to how to vote.”
It may not be in the spirit of the proxy rules, we were wondering in the office whether it might even be a breach of the rules, but either way it’s a striking way of making the point that 3 million long-term residents in this country are locked out of this referendum.