Labour 'plot to rig electorate' by giving vote to EU nationals and 16-year-olds

15 May 2023, 00:16 | Updated: 15 May 2023, 06:19

Labour are reportedly considering plans to give millions of EU citizens the right to vote if Labour returns to power at the next general election.
Labour are reportedly considering plans to give millions of EU citizens the right to vote if Labour returns to power at the next general election. Picture: Getty

By Chris Samuel

Leading Tories have accused Sir Keir Starmer of a plot "rig the electorate" after it was reported that Labour are considering plans to give millions of EU citizens the right to vote if returned to power.

Under the prospective changes, the Labour leader would reportedly launch a “package of proposals” which would also include handing the vote to settled migrants and 16 and 17-year-olds.

But the proposed plans sparked accusations from Conservative Party Chairman Greg Hands that Labour is “laying the groundwork to drag the UK back into the EU by stealth”.

Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: “This is an attempt to rig the electorate to rejoin the EU.

"The right to vote in parliamentary elections and choose the next UK Government is rightly restricted to British citizens and those with the closest historical links to our country.

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“No other EU country allows EU citizens who are not their nationals to vote in parliamentary elections.”

Two of his predecessors, Liam Fox and Nadhim Zahawi, echoed the criticism, with Mr warning Labour's ambitions would “dilute the influence” of British citizens.

Mr Zahawi said: “This is the beginning of a strategy to soften the nation up towards reversing Brexit and going back into the EU, and a high-tax, big spending government.”

Labour insisted on Sunday that such proposals were part of the policy process, and not a final manifesto plan.

Greg Hands accused Labour of 'laying the groundwork to drag the UK back into the EU by stealth'
Greg Hands accused Labour of 'laying the groundwork to drag the UK back into the EU by stealth'. Picture: Getty

It's thought the move could lead to a wipeout of Tory MPs in London and unseat Boris Johnson from his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, should he stand for Parliament in 2029.

Polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice said that young people and migrants were more likely to support Labour.

“The presumption we all have, rightly or wrongly, is that they’re more likely to be opposed to Brexit, and therefore less likely to vote for the Conservative Party,” he told the outlet.

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer. Picture: Alamy

“London is already so overwhelmingly Labour – there are some Tory constituencies left, but not that many of them, and they are the ones that will be particularly on the line.”

Prof Curtis added that the change “might help contribute to the downfall of Boris” in his constituency in west London, which has a large population of migrants, if he remains an MP following the next national vote.

Under the proposals, migrants living permanently and paying tax in the UK would have the right to cast their ballot in general elections for the first time.

It's expected the move would affect around 3.4 million EU citizens in Britain, who already meet the requirements to gain “settled status”.

Sir Keir arrives at a polling station to cast his vote in local elections in London on May 6, 2021.
Sir Keir arrives at a polling station to cast his vote in local elections in London on May 6, 2021. Picture: Getty

2.6 million have already achieved “pre-settled” status and could receive voting rights in the future.

Settled EU migrants are already able to cast their vote in some elections, including for the Welsh and Scottish parliaments, local councils, and police and crime commissioners, while sixteen and 17-year-olds have had the right to vote local and devolved assembly elections in Scotland and Wales since 2016 and 2020, respectively.

Irish and Commonwealth nationals have the right to vote in general elections provided they are UK residents and register cast their vote.

It's thought the proposed extension of the vote is could be the biggest expansion in the size of the franchise since Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act gave women electoral equality with men in 1928.

A Labour spokesperson said: “Keir fundamentally believes that if you work hard and contribute to this country, not only should you be able to get on, but it is fair and right that you should also have a say in decisions being made for your community.”

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