Rishi Sunak rules out allowing under 18s and EU citizens right to vote
Rishi Sunak has ruled out changing the law to allow under-18s and EU citizens to vote because casting a ballot is a “privilege”.
The Prime Minister also insisted that the introduction of compulsory ID for voters at the recent local elections had ensured the “integrity” of the ballot.
Labour’s draft policy platform for its next manifesto includes a pledge to extend the franchise to everyone aged 16 and 17, as well as citizens of the EU and potentially other countries who are settled in the UK.
The current rules state that as well as British passport holders, Irish and Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK can vote.
Scotland and Wales allow votes at 16 for their devolved parliaments, but for UK-wide elections and all votes in England the minimum age is 18.
Asked whether he would contemplate relaxing the current rules, Mr Sunak said: “I think that voting is a privilege. We have a set of rules in place about who is eligible to vote. And we have no plans to change that.”
The Prime Minister defended the requirement for all voters to produce photographic identification, which first took effect at the English local elections earlier this month.
He said: “These laws, the Labour government put them in place for Northern Ireland when they were in office, point one. Point two, they’re used in tonnes of other countries across Europe and indeed Canada.
Point three 98 per cent of people already possessed one of the forms of ID that was eligible and for those that didn’t have one they could apply for a free voter ID.
“Those are all the facts that make me think it is an entirely reasonable thing to do in line with lots of other countries including in Northern Ireland, which the Labour government did. Also I think it is an entirely reasonable thing that there is integrity in our voting system. That’s my general view on that.”
Thousands of people were turned away from polling stations because they did not have valid ID and there are concerns that the problem could grow at next year’s general election.