THE BLOG

Young People Deserve a Voice in the EU Referendum

17/11/2015 17:34 GMT | Updated 17/11/2016 10:12 GMT

A hundred years ago it was common to hear arguments such as "it's too much responsibility", "they aren't mature enough", "their fathers can vote on their behalf" being used by those who were opposed to giving women the vote.

We are now rightly appalled at such patronising and conservative attitudes. But these arguments are now being deployed again in the debates on 16- and 17-year-olds being given the vote in the EU referendum.

We saw during the recent Scottish referendum how 16- and 17-year-olds are politically engaged, active and know the issues inside out. There is no real reason, bar the arguments of a few constitutional dinosaurs, stuck in another age, stating why they should not get the vote. This week the issue will be raised in both the House of Commons and Lords.

If young people in Scotland got to vote last year, I cannot see why young people throughout Britain cannot vote in the forthcoming referendum. It is rank hypocrisy of the worst kind to argue against votes at 16 for the referendum.

The government may be willing to ignore the obvious moral argument for this, like the fact you can serve in the armed forces, be married and pay tax at from 16, but when it comes to the forthcoming EU referendum, they would be foolish to ignore the positive evidence from last September.

In the House of Commons tomorrow the government will try and remove a Lib Dem amendment to extend the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections. On Wednesday, a further vote will be called on a cross-party amendment to the EU Referendum Bill that expands the franchise 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in the EU referendum. The amendment is signed by Paul Tyler, Liberal Democrat Political Reform Spokesman.

The Liberal Democrats have long fought for votes at 16 as part of wider political reform that will create a fairer and more representative electoral system. We believe that the referendum on Europe is one of the most fundamental questions facing Britain and we believe that the people it will most impact are those 16- and 17-year-olds who will have to live with the consequences. They must have their voice heard.

The Liberal Democrats will make this a red line issue and we will keep putting this clause back into the bill and we urge the Prime Minister to back us and stand up to the right-wing elements in his party. Young people need and deserve a voice.