Starmer wants to lower voting age to 16 to ‘entrench his power’, says Sunak

The public thinks Labour wants to lower the voting age because of its own electoral self-interest, poll finds
The public thinks Labour wants to lower the voting age because of its own electoral self-interest, poll finds

Rishi Sunak has accused Sir Keir Starmer of only supporting votes for 16-year-olds because it will “entrench his power” for years.

The Prime Minister attacked the Labour leader for vowing in his manifesto to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 – saying it was designed to be “electorally helpful to him”.

“What is striking about it is Keir Starmer doesn’t believe in the principle because he’s not saying anything else should change,” Mr Sunak said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“It would be one thing if you believed that we just need to change the age that we generally consider people to become adults in this country (and) all the things that go along with that, all the rights and responsibilities.

“If you had a principled position that all of that should change, that would be one thing. I would disagree with it, but at least it would be a principled argument.

“But that’s not his argument... he’s only wanting to change the voting age, nothing else. So then you have to ask, well why is it that one thing that you’re happy to change, and nothing else?

“I think that tells you he thinks that it is electorally helpful to him. We talked about the risks of Labour in power and what they would do. This is an example of it... just kind of entrenching his power. And I think that tells you a lot about him and the Labour Party.”

The Prime Minister added that Sir Keir has previously discussed extending the vote to migrants who do not already qualify to vote in general elections.

He said: “So if he had a blank cheque, I think you could reasonably assume it wouldn’t just be votes at 16 – it’d be votes for immigrants and the rest.”

A poll by More in Common found last month that the public thinks Labour wants to lower the voting age because of its own electoral self-interest rather than because it will be good for the country.

Scotland and Wales have already given 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in local and devolved elections.

In the interview, Mr Sunak also said Sir Keir had sent a “dangerous” signal to Vladimir Putin by not setting a deadline for raising defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP.

The Conservatives have said they will do so by 2030.

The Prime Minister also warned that Angela Rayner and David Lammy’s positions at the heart of any future Labour government proved that the party has not changed since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Ms Rayner and Mr Lammy have both previously voted against the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

Mr Sunak added that Labour will raise taxes “on everything”, suggesting that their promises to not put up income tax, national insurance and VAT were not to be believed.

Asked about polls which suggest the Conservatives could be left with fewer than 100 MPs, Mr Sunak said it would mean Labour would be able to raise taxes on homes, cars and pensions and that he wanted to avoid that.

He said he would fight to make sure voters knew the risk to their finances a future Labour government would mean.