Milton Keynes MP Iain Stewart defends ban on lowering voting age in EU referendum

Iain Stewart MP
Iain Stewart MP

Iain Stewart MP has defended his decision to vote against allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum.

In Westminster yesterday, Mr Stewart was one of 310 MPs to ban lowering the voting age for the ‘in-out’ referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

But the Conservative MP for MK South says he has an “open mind” when it comes to giving youngsters the chance to vote in all elections.

He said: “This is wider issue than just the voting age. We need to have a debate on all elections, not just one specific referendum.

“I have an open mind but we need to have a sensible discussion when, as it stands, you can go to war at 16, but not have a drink until you’re 18.

“We need to have a debate about the age of majority and adulthood.”

Less than 40 minutes after the vote was struck down in the House of Commons, the Scottish parliament voted unanimously in favour of allowing its 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections.

It follows the UK government’s decision late last year to devolve power to lower the voting age for Scottish parliamentary elections.

In light of this, Lib Dem Councillor Sam Crooks slammed the government for letting England be “left behind”.

Responding to his comments, Mr Stewart said: “That is the point of devolution, so that different parts of the UK can do things in different ways.

“If you look at other countries’ voting ages I do not think we are out of touch with the rest of the world.

“I have been on many schools visits and some pupils clearly want to see the voting age reduced, but in a show of hands most people seem to either not care, or are completely against it.”

> Countries where the voting age is 16 - Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua

Countries where voting age is 17 - East Timor, Ethiopia, Indonesia, North Korea and Sudan

Countries where the voting age is higher than 18 - South Korea (19), Bahrain, Cameroon, Japan, Nauru, Taiwan (20)