Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said there is a new plot to reverse Brexit, with leading Tories backing giving largely pro-European Union (EU) 16- and 17-year-olds the vote.
Mr. Farage’s warning comes after Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley said there is growing support among Conservatives for the reform, and the former anti-Brexit Tory Chancellor George Osborne backed the move.
Mr. Osborne claimed that calls for the vote to be extended to 16- and 17-year-olds had become “unstoppable” in an editorial column in Thursday’s London Evening Standard, the newspaper he edits.
The former chancellor, who infamously politicised the Treasury and Civil Service to issue discredited anti-Brexit economic warnings and a “punishment budget”, added on Twitter:
More Tory MPs now support votes for 16yr olds. By my count, Govn now doesn’t have a majority to stop it. Choice: lose in Commons, 16yr olds get vote & Tories lose even more support of young people; or back votes at 16 & get some credit for major social reform. Hmmm. Tough one.
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) February 15, 2018
Young people are generally much more pro-EU, and allowing more teenagers to vote could swing the vote if anti-Brexit campaigners secure a second referendum.
According to YouGov, over-65s were more than twice as likely as under-25s to have voted to leave the EU in the referendum.
A massive 71 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds backed staying in the bloc, and the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who oppose Brexit is likely to be equally as high or larger.
Speaking on his LBC radio show, Mr. Farage mentioned Sir Peter’s comments and the pro-EU Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who also supports the move.
He said he thought it was a “bad idea” to let more teens vote, adding: “You shouldn’t be allowed to vote in elections that you are not eligible to stand for.”
Explaining how extending the vote to 16-year-olds would please Remainers and anti-Brexit campaigners, he continued:
“Of course, many of the Remoaners, Remainers, call them what you will, think that so many of the youngsters think that the EU referendum has been a bad thing, which given the way they are taught at school it’s probably not very surprising.
“That is one of the reasons they are encouraging it so much, an argument, a debate for another day.”