09/11/2018 13:59 GMT | Updated 09/11/2018 14:16 GMT

Alex McDermott: Talented Teenager Owns The Floor As He Demands Votes At 16 In Parliament

His speech was branded a 'William Hague moment'.

Schoolboy Alex McDermott stunned the House of Commons with a barnstorming speech calling for the voting age to be lowered to 16. 

The 14-year-old, a member of the UK Youth Parliament for Amber Valley and Chesterfield, was rewarded with a standing ovation after making a passionate case for change at the despatch box. 

McDermott asked how MPs want to be judged by future generations and told the house: “Young people like to change things, including the people who lead them.” 

His speech was branded a “William Hague moment” – a reference to the former Tory leader’s address to party conference as a 16-year-old in 1977 – by one commentator, while speaker John Bercow called it “top notch advocacy” and “quite simply a brilliant speech”.

McDermott compared MPs’ attitudes to the campaign for votes at 16 to those of men a hundred years ago who opposed women’s right to vote. 

“How would we judge this kind of view now? Sexist, arrogant, ignorant and prejudicial,” he said. 

“So we stand here at yet another crossroads in the UK’s democracy.” 

He added that the quality of young people’s votes were “just as good as the quality of that of older voters”. 

He added: “I won’t need to revisit the idea that 16 and 17-year-olds can legally marry, fight for and have sex with their MPs, but they can’t vote for them. 

“I won’t bother to frighten you with the risks of not giving young people a voice, with disaffection and disengagement, with lack of faith in our political system, with seeking a voice elsewhere through gangs, through crime, through extremism and through revolution. 

“No, I’m not going to do any of that, simply because you have heard it all before. 

“So, why has nothing changed? Simple. There is not the political will. Those in power do not want another group to win, who speak in languages they don’t understand, who operate on social media platforms they have never heard of.” 

Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP are supportive of lowering the voting age. 

The Tories continue to oppose the policy, but a number of Conservative MPs have said the party should switch position, including two former education secretaries, Justine Greening and Nicky Morgan. 

The UK Youth Parliament also debated homelessness, mental health and knife crime.