OUTSPOKEN Conservative MP Lee Anderson has accused the Labour Party of attempting to ‘rig’ the next election, after recently announcing that they would give millions of EU migrants the right to vote in the UK.
Labour is considering plans to expand the UK’s voter franchise to include the right for EU nationals and 16- and 17-year-olds to be given the vote.
The proposals could permit migrants who live permanently in the UK to vote in general elections for the first time. Currently, providing they pay taxes, such migrants are only able to vote in local elections, and have often been targeted by Labour Party councillors and pro-EU activists, deploying scaremonger tactics to make migrants believe that the Conservative party is xenophobic.
The shadow business secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, stressed that the proposals were part of Labour’s policymaking process, but 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”.
Party leader Keir Starmer has already publicly called for EU nationals to have full voting rights, announcing his desire when making 10 key pledges during his leadership campaign.
An estimated 3.4 million EU nationals could be affected by the proposals, including 2.6 million people who have already been granted “pre-settled status”.
Responding to Labour’s shock proposal, Conservative MP and Deputy Chairman Lee Anderson said: “Labour need to come clean about the extent of their plans to hand millions of foreign nationals the vote in UK parliamentary elections and UK referendums, attempting to rig the next election.”
Anderson may have confused his words slightly – perhaps meaning future elections and not the next General Election, of which Labour has no control over, with the party not being in power and thus unable to implement their proposals before the next GE in 2025.
“How exactly can Labour (not in power) rig the NEXT election by changing who can/can’t vote?” wrote on Twitter user.
There will be a Labour national policy forum (NPF) meeting from 21-23 July during which officials will decide what policies will be put forward to the Labour conference for members to vote on and decide the final party programme, from which the general election manifesto will be formed.
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 Starmer of “reopening the Brexit settlement”.
Speaking on Sky News, he 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.”