The Government have rejected allowing 16 and 17 year olds a vote in the upcoming EU referendum. The referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, planned for some time before the end of 2017 will be limited to those allowed to vote in General Elections with the addition of Members of the House of Lords, who will also be allowed to vote.
During the committee stage of the European Union Referendum Bill, Copeland MP, Jamie Reed voted in favour of giving 16 and 17 year olds a voice in the vote, but the Government rejected the plans.
Last year’s Scottish Referendum was the first election in the UK to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote; during the campaign, over 80% of 16 and 17 year olds registered to vote.
Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed MP said:
“Britain’s membership of the European Union is one of the biggest issues facing our country at the moment and it is essential that 16 and 17 year olds are given a say on their own future. A referendum on this scale, with an impact that could mean major repercussions in the coming years, has the potential to change the lives of young people. The result of the vote could bind our country to a path that will impact our young people for the rest of their lives without them ever having a vote or the chance to really engage in the debate; the Government shouldn’t deny them a say.
“The Scottish Referendum shows there is an appetite among young people for big debates in politics; debates don’t get much bigger than Britain’s place in the world. By refusing young people a say when their future is being debated could disengage them with the political process for years to come. This can’t be right and I hope the Government re-visit this decision in the coming months.”