Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will “look at” expanding the franchise to EU citizens living in the UK and lowering the voting age to 16, a party frontbencher has confirmed.
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds has said the proposals are “something we will look at”, amid reports over Labour being keen to bring in the schemes.
But he stressed they were “not the final plans for the Labour manifesto” and that changes to democracy’s functioning should not “be considered through any kind of party political lens”.
Reynolds told Sky News there were “arguments for expanding the franchise” and that “we should always be seeking to involve as many people as possible in our democracy”.
‘Clause Four on steroids’
While he said Starmer’s description of his reforms to the party as Clause Four “on steroids” related to the “level of ambition” of Labour’s “policy platform”.
The Labour leader told the Progressive Britain Conference this weekend that his changes to the organisation’s structure and operations were about “changing our entire culture”.
He likened the shift away from the Corbyn era and his own project for the party to ex-prime minister Sir Tony Blair’s 1995 decision to ditch the party’s constitutional commitment to “common ownership of the means of production”, marking a new chapter in Labour history.
Starmer said: “This is about taking our party back to where we belong and where we should always have been… doing what we were created to do. This is Clause Four – on steroids.”
Sir Keir also distanced himself from plans for electoral reform, indicating a repeat of a the 2011 referendum on an alternative voting system to replace first past the post was unlikely.
Back in EU ‘by stealth?’
The comments came after a successful set of local elections for Labour, in which the Tories lost nearly 1,000 councillors, with a general election widely expected to be held next year.
But Conservative chairman Greg Hands hit out at Labour, accusing the party of “laying the groundwork to drag the UK back into the EU by stealth”.
He said: “The right to vote in parliamentary elections and choose the next UK government is rightly restricted to British citizens and those with the closest historical links to our country.
“No other EU country allows EU citizens who are not nationals to vote in Parliamentary elections.”
with additional reporting from Press Association