A Tory MP has claimed that allowing 16 and and 17-year-olds the vote in a December election would be wrong – and said one of his reasons to oppose it was it does not benefit his party.
Speaking to Sky News ahead of a vote on amendments to Boris Johnson’s general election bill, Tobias Ellwood was opposed to giving 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote if an election is called this year.
He said: “To throw very serious proposals to our electoral system is something I don’t think the country has had a debate about – important though it may be.
“It might be the travel of travel we might be going.
“But today the age of adulthood is 18, it is across the contitent in that way as well, to suddenly to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote would change the parameters here very, very fast.
“It would require a money resolution as well, and I don’t think we’d get it in time.”
But presenter Sarah-Jane Mee referred to a tweet she received asking how it was OK for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to join the armed forces, get married, smoke, work, pay tax, “but you think they don’t have the right to vote on their future?”
Ellwood, however, said he had to “correct” the presenter to state that “you are not allowed to do any of those without parent approval”.
“You become an adult to make your own decisions at the age of 18”.
He continued: “My own personal view is that this is something coming around the corner in the near future.
“We’ve seen it in some elections already, but it doesn’t happen in national elections on the continent or indeed here.
“I don’t know anywhere else where it happens either.”
But then the Tory MP also suggested another reason for opposing the idea was because it would not benefit the Tories.
He said: “Whilst the age of voting should be a debate we have in this country, to suddenly thrust upon us right now – when we know it’ll probably favour one particular party – now is not the right time to do it.”
Twitter users reacted with amazement – particularly as young Tories were able to vote for Boris Johnson as the next prime minister.
One said: “So 15 year old tory members can vote for a party leader who is PM but 16 and 17 year olds shouldn’t vote because they won’t vote Tory?”
Posting a clip, Our Future Our Choice campaigner Femi Oluwole tweeted: “I was in the middle of a crowded street when I heard this and accidentally shouted ‘You f***** WHAT?!'”
John Bowen responded: “Shameful, but hardly surprising. I’d sooner trust a 16-year old than an 86-year old with the future direction of this nation.”