Should 16 and 17-year-olds be allowed to vote in the EU referendum? Find out how MK Council voted

Should 16 and 17-year-olds have the chance to vote in the EU referendum?
Should 16 and 17-year-olds have the chance to vote in the EU referendum?

Councillors voted to support lowering the voting age and welcoming EU residents to the polling station in 2017’s European Union referendum.

Lib Dem Councillor Sam Crooks made a passionate speech while presenting a motion to include all young people over the age of 16 and all EU citizens who live in the UK.

He said this evening’s motion will not change national legislation, but it will send out a message across the UK - once again putting Milton Keynes at the forefront of the UK.

“Democracy should be fully inclusive,” Councillor Crooks said.

“I want to be inclusive regardless of age or nationality. That is what makes the great richness of our city.

“Unlike the general election, this vote will effect their lives for some 70 or 80 years, much longer than many of us.

“Why should we deny them the chance of influencing the outcome?

“I want the council to have the courage to extend the franchise and be truly international.”

Mr Crooks asked the Conservatives to support the motion and be “true to their honourable history”, but the debate split the Tory party.

Some said young people were the future, while others argued the motion was “pure opportunism” to influence votes.

Councillor Alex Walker believes 16 and 17-year-olds should not be given the chance to vote.

He said: “I believe there are too many cons this time around.

“The age of majority is a mess. At 16 you can marry, but you can’t drive your new wife until you’re 17. At 16 you can go to war, but you can’t have a drink with your mates before you head off.

“It is a bizarre set up and I feel we must balance the age of majority before we discuss changing the age of voting.”
He also added that education needs to be at a level that allows young people to make an informed decision.

Speaking from the public gallery, MK Youth Cabinet member Kayla Villamil Martinez, said: “I know plenty of young people who are more than capable of voting and plenty of adults who are incapable of voting.

“However, I do not see you stopping them when they don’t understand politics. Why are you stopping us when we do understand politics?

“As a generation, who is going to suffer in the outcome of the EU referendum - us.”

As councillors cast their vote, it was revealed 35 were in favour, while seven were against and 12 abstained.

Leader of the council, Pete Marland, said: “I was pleased to vote in favour of the motion, but it should be a much wider debate on whether 16 and 17-year-olds should be able to vote in all elections.”