The leader of Britain's opposition Labor Party, Keir Starmer, said Monday that the party was weighing plans to allow an estimated 3.4 million EU nationals resident in the country to vote in national elections. File Photo by Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE
May 15 (UPI) -- Britain's opposition Labor Party is considering giving EU residents the vote and lowering the voting age if it wins the next election, party leader Keir Starmer confirmed Monday.
Stressing that it was not yet official policy, Starmer told a radio phone-in that the party was "looking at" the idea of whether about 3.4 million EU nationals living in Britain should be able to vote in national elections, as well as lowering the voting age for everyone to 16.
EU citizens who are permanent residents of Britain with "settled status" already vote in some elections such as for the devolved Scottish and Welsh parliaments and local council election but Starmer said that long-term residents, who he said contribute to the economy and their communities, "ought to be able to vote" in general elections.
"I've obviously knocked a lot of doors in the last few years and you go to a door sometimes in a general election and you're met with someone who says, 'Look, I'm an EU citizen. I've been living here for 30 years. I'm married to a Brit. My kids are raised and brought up here. They're now working in the U.K. I'm working in lots of community projects. But I can't vote.,'" Starmer said. "That feels wrong, and something ought to be done about it."
The voting age is currently 18, but Starmer also confirmed Labor was weighing allowing 16 and 17-year-olds -- who currently may only vote in certain elections -- to vote in general elections.
"It's not such an outlandish idea, In Wales it already happens, in Scotland it already happens. These are some of the ideas that are going into the mix but they're not policy. We're just looking at them," Starmer said.
The former director of public prosecutions again refused to rule out a pact with the Liberal Democrats if Labor failed to win a majority in a general election due to take place before the end of next year.
While insisting he was focused on getting a majority Starmer declined to categorically state Labor would not enter into a coalition saying he would "have to see what the situation is next year".
Labor took hundreds of seats from the ruling Conservatives in local elections last week but with the results suggesting a hung parliament remains a very real possibility, Starmer has been repeatedly questioned about whether he would countenance a coalition with another party.