I supported the amendment to the EU Referendum Bill which would have given 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in the EU referendum.
The recent Scottish Referendum saw the franchise opened up to 16 and 17 year olds and a record turnout of 84.5%. Like the Scottish Referendum, the forthcoming EU referendum will set the future direction of the UK and it should have been open to 16 and 17 year olds as it is their future too.
The Government blocked votes for 16 and 17 year olds, arguing that the amendment had cost implications and therefore wasn’t within the power of the Lords to implement this change.
In North Wales this denial of the vote will see 16,336 16 and 17 year olds locked out from voting. In Flintshire that figure is 3,741, which is the highest population of 16 and 17 year olds in North Wales.
I received a large response from constituents calling for the Government to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds in the EU referendum. I find the decision not to increase the franchise to be utterly wrong. A decision this important needs to see the viewpoint of all generations reflected, not just the reiteration of those who got to vote in the last EU referendum.
We have a sizeable population of teenagers who want to engage in the democratic system, and this would have been an excellent opportunity to allow them to do so.
I hope the Government will rethink its decision and allow the 16,336 teenagers a vote in the EU referendum.