Rishi Sunak accuses Keir Starmer of only wanting to lower voting age to 'entrench his power'

18 June 2024, 01:28

The PM accused Sir Keir of trying to "entrench his power" by lowering the voting age
The PM accused Sir Keir of trying to "entrench his power" by lowering the voting age. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Rishi Sunak has accused Keir Starmer of only wanting to lower the voting age to 16 to "entrench his power" for years.

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Labour vowed to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 in their manifesto, saying it was to "increase the engagement of young people in our vibrant democracy".

But the move was criticised by Rishi Sunak, who said Sir Keir Starmer is only willing to make such a change as it will be “electorally helpful to him”.

"What is striking about it is Keir Starmer doesn’t believe in the principle because he’s not saying anything else should change," Mr Sunak told the Daily Mail.

"It would be one thing if you believed that we just need to change the age that we generally consider people to become adults in this country (and) all the things that go along with that, all the rights and responsibilities."

Read more: Labour landslide could see Tories winning just 72 seats, poll finds, as Rishi Sunak's party faces 'electoral extinction'

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Politicians can respect voters by getting their priorities right

He continued: "If you had a principled position that all of that should change, that would be one thing. I would disagree with it, but at least it would be a principled argument.

"But that’s not his argument... he’s only wanting to change the voting age, nothing else. So then you have to ask, well why is it that one thing that you’re happy to change, and nothing else?

"I think that tells you he thinks that it is electorally helpful to him. We talked about the risks of Labour in power and what they would do. This is an example of it... just kind of entrenching his power.

"And I think that tells you a lot about him and the Labour Party."

Mr Sunak's comments come after a poll by More in Common found that the public thinks Labour only wants to make the change for its own electoral self-interest.

In Scotland and Wales, the voting age is already 16 for local and devolved elections.

LBC's Nick Ferrari will host phone-ins with Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer this Tuesday and Wednesday - listen live from 7am.

Mr Sunak also hit out at Sir Keir for sending a "dangerous" message to Vladimir Putin by not setting a deadline to increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP.

"He and the Labour Party are not prioritising our country's security at a time that is undeniably the most dangerous and uncertain that our country has been in in decades. It deeply concerns me," he said.

Sir Keir has pitched Labour as the "party of national security", reaffirming his commitment to a "nuclear deterrent triple lock" as well as the increase to defence spending.

It comes in a bid to shift perceptions of Labour's defence stance following the party's time under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who was a long-standing critic of Nato and Trident.

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