Senior politicians have called for the voting age to be lowered to 16 after the surge in the youth vote at the general election.
The Green party co-leader, , former Labour leader Ed Miliband and the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Jo Swinson, have all given their backing to the change . The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, and the Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader, Liz Saville Roberts, also support it.
“Something that should be welcomed by politicians from all parties in these febrile political times is the rise in young people’s interest in politics,” the letter reads. “With turnout rising and excitement building, it’s time to think boldly about enhancing our democracy.”
The MPs have all signed an early day motion calling for the voting age to be lowered.
“These young people can join the armed forces, pay tax and get married – yet they’re not allowed to cast a vote in a general election,” the letter said.
“With Scotland already having a voting age of 16, and Wales potentially about to follow suit, it would be a profound shame for UK-wide elections and votes in England to be left lagging behind the pioneers on this issue.”
Labour, Lib Dems, SNP and the Green party all supported reducing the voting age to 16 in their manifestos.
The MPs said the rapid changes in the political landscape and issues such as Brexit made it vital that younger people’s voices should be heard. “Politics is shifting fast – and the decisions made by those in power in the coming years will profoundly affect the entire lives of young people,” the MPs said.
“It’s time for the government to update our democracy by legislating to ensure that the next general election, whenever that might be, is the first in which 16 and 17 year olds can vote.”
The Conservatives have historically opposed lowering the voting age and Theresa May said during the election campaign she supported maintaining the current minimum of 18. “This is one of those questions where you have to draw a line, you have to pick a point at which you think it is right for the voting age to be,” she said.
“I continue to think it is right for it to be 18. Of course we now expect young people more to stay in education or training up to the age of 18 and I think that is an appropriate point at which we allow people to have a vote in parliamentary elections.”
During the Scottish referendum on independence, 16- and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote after an intervention by the Scottish government but that was not permitted for the EU referendum in 2016.