Labour plans to allow EU citizens to vote in UK general elections 'may never see the light of day', says former Home Sec

15 May 2023, 19:32 | Updated: 15 May 2023, 21:43

Tonight with Andrew Marr
Tonight with Andrew Marr. Picture: LBC

By Emma Soteriou

Sir Keir Starmer's proposals to allow EU citizens to vote in UK general elections "may never see the light of day", former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said.

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Mr Johnson said he believed the proposal "hasn’t been thought through" and is instead being used "for a few headlines".

It comes after Sir Keir told LBC that it "feels wrong" that millions of EU citizens can't vote in the UK's general elections.

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Despite Mr Johnson disregarding potential for EU citizens to vote, he said opening up voting to 16 and 17-year-olds seemed more likely as it "has been the policy for some time" for Labour.

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Labour’s proposal to allow EU citizens to vote in general elections 'may never see the light of day'

Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Johnson said: "From what I hear, and I'm not an expert on this, Andrew, I'm a writer, not a politician at the moment, it's a National Policy Forum paper.

"And there's been lots of things at National Policy Forum, the Labour Party's road to the manifesto, that get ditched or changed and never emerge again. And I think this is one that may never see the light of day."

He continued: "I think this sounds to me, like one of those things that hasn't been thought through. That it is a paper that's gone to a National Policy Forum group and has been plucked out for a few headlines on this.

"I mean, it's a bit different from 16- to 17-year-olds, which has been the policy for some time, which I fundamentally disagree with, by the way… For this, I think there's every chance that it won't get any further than a Policy Forum discussion."

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Read more: No vote after 30 years in UK 'feels wrong': Starmer weighs up letting millions of EU citizens vote in national elections

Keir Starmer makes the case for giving 16-year-olds the vote

On Monday morning, Sir Keir told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that Labour was "looking at some of the voting issues" and "there's no settled policy here".

"As you know, EU nationals can vote in local elections, Commonwealth citizens can vote in all elections, and so we're looking at that," he said.

"The thinking behind it is if someone's been here say 10, 20, 30 years, contributing to this economy, contributing to the community, they ought to be able to vote.

"Let me bring it alive - I've knocked on a lot of doors in the last few years, and you go to doors sometimes in a general election and you're met with someone who says 'look, I'm an EU citizen, I've been living here for 30 years, I'm married to a Brit.

"'My kids were raised and brought up here, they're now working in the UK, we're all working in lots of community projects but I can't vote.'

"That feels wrong, and something ought to be done about it."

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