THE BLOG
03/09/2018 17:25 BST | Updated 04/09/2018 11:08 BST

We Cannot Exclude 16- And 17-Year-Olds From A Vote On The Final Brexit Deal

It’s also only fair that those who will have to live with the consequences of Brexit the longest, should not be denied their say

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During the Brexit negotiations, Theresa May consciously decided to disregard the views of Gibraltar, Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and indeed 48% of voters across the country.

But worst of all she’s willing to impose a disastrous Brexit on millions of younger voters - 73% of whom voted for a different future.

Good political leaders bring people together around shared values, big challenges and the promise of a brighter future. They offer hope, unity and an energy that cascades into local communities.

None of this is on offer from our Conservative Prime Minister and I struggle to see how she could look a young person in the eye, and make a case that her vision of Brexit is an opportunity.

Instead, all we hear is that a no deal Brexit will not be the end of the world and that the benefits of Brexit will not be felt for another 50 years. Hardly the kind of language that will motivate you to get out of bed in the morning.

With just a few months to the end of the negotiations, we are only now beginning to get a clearer picture of what Brexit means. That’s why it’s only fair that the people, not politicians, get the final say on the Brexit deal, including the option to remain in the EU.

And this time, it’s also only fair that those who will have to live with the consequences of Brexit the longest, 1.5million 16- and 17-year-olds, should not be denied their say. They are able to work and pay taxes, join the army or get married and yet, some claim that those same young people wouldn’t have the maturity to make an informed decision on Brexit. I’m sorry but that’s total nonsense and the Scottish referendum in 2014 proves the complete opposite.

With the campaign for a final vote on the deal gaining momentum daily, it is paramount that 16- and 17-year-olds are allowed to take part in any vote on the deal. According to an NUS report, as many as 75% of 16- and 17-year-olds declare that they would have voted in the 2016 referendum, if allowed to. That’s higher than the turnout in any General Election since 1992.

The Liberal Democrats want a country that gives our young people the best opportunities. That’s why we’re running the biggest campaign we’ve ever run outside an election. Out of the major parties, we continue to be the only party calling for the people to get a final vote on the deal, with the option to stay in the EU. And we want 16- and 17-year-olds to be central part of this democratic exercise!

Tom Brake is the Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington