Labour considers extending voting rights to EU citizens


The party’s leader, Keir Starmer, called for EU nationals to have full voting rights when he made 10 key pledges during his leadership campaign…reports Asian Lite News

Labour is considering plans to expand the UK’s voter franchise including votes for EU nationals and 16- and 17-year-olds. The proposals could permit migrants who live permanently in the UK and pay tax to vote in general elections for the first time.

The shadow business secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, stressed the proposals were part of Labour’s policymaking process in which different stakeholders have the opportunity to submit their ideas.

However, he said Labour was “always looking at ways to strengthen our democracy, to involve as many people [as] possible in that, and there’ll be an element of that, reform of how this country operates, how power is shared, in the Labour manifesto, that’s for sure”.

The party’s leader, Keir Starmer, called for EU nationals to have full voting rights when he made 10 key pledges during his leadership campaign.

About 3.4 million EU nationals could be affected by the proposals, including 2.6 million people who have already been granted “pre-settled status”. Commonwealth and Irish citizens can already vote in elections.

There will be a crunch Labour national policy forum (NPF) meeting from 21-23 July during which officials will decide what policies will be put to the Labour conference to form the final party programme, from which the general election manifesto will be drawn.

It marks the first time since the 2015 general election that the NPF has been able to convene and officially start its manifesto work.

Asked whether it would be a good idea to allow settled migrants and 16- and 17-year-olds to vote, Reynolds told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I think there are arguments for expanding the franchise. It’s not an area I directly deal with in the shadow cabinet. I’m not going to give a definitive answer on that, but I think we should always be seeking to involve as many people as possible in our democracy.

“It’s something we will look at, but some of the reports, I’ve got to stress they’re not the final plans for the Labour manifesto. I don’t think any changes to how the British state works, how democracy works, should ever be considered through any kind of party political lens.”

The energy secretary, Grant Shapps, accused the Labour leader of “reopening the Brexit settlement” with the proposals.

Speaking on Sky News, Shapps said: “What else will he reopen? The Windsor framework? The cooperation agreement with Europe?

“Starmer is doing whatever he thinks is practical to do at that moment in time. He doesn’t have any fundamental ideas.”

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