The Conservatives should lead the way in pushing for an expansion of the voting franchise to children, Tory MP Tobias Ellwood said on Tuesday.
Asked whether 16 and 17-year-olds should have the right to vote in England, Ellwood told the BBC’s Politics Live programme: “Yes, they should. I very much support this move, in Scotland and Wales they are there already and other countries around the world are moving that way, Brazil, Austria, Malta, Germany is getting there too.”
“It comes up at every election when you visit schools, you can get married at 16 but you are not trusted to vote,” he said.
Ellwood claimed that studies show teenagers are more “curious” and “enthused” about the political system than their 18-25 peers.
“I think harnessing that enthusiasm and introducing a civic duty to vote, strengthening that bond between the people and the state, I think that will be a very, very positive move,” the Conservative MP said.
He predicted that the UK law will eventually allow children to vote in elections and said that he would like the Conservative Party to be the “vanguard of that change and give 16-year-olds the ability to vote”.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood predicts UK law will change to let 16 and 17-year-olds vote in England, as they can in Welsh and Scottish elections
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 4, 2021
Ellwood’s comments align him more closely to the left-wing Democrat Party in the United States, despite being a member of the so-called Conservative Party in the UK.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, argued in March of 2019 that the voting age in America should be lowered to 16, saying: “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they are in high school when they are interested in all of this when they are learning about government, to be able to vote.”
Ellwood’s justification for allowing children to vote, comparing voting rights to 16-year-olds being able to get married, came at a particularly inopportune moment, as leading charities called for the practice of under-18 marriages to be banned in Britain on the same day.
Under current law in England, 16 and 17-year-olds are legally permitted to get married if they have parental consent and in Scotland, 16 is the baseline age for marriage.
On Tuesday, a group of charities wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for the legal age to marry to be set at 18 for any circumstance, arguing that many under-18 marriages consist of a young girl being forced by her family to marry an older man in a private religious ceremony.
The letter said: “Unacceptably, the onus is on the child to secure their own protection under forced marriage law by speaking out against their own family and community, which can have dangerous consequences and understandably many children are too terrified to do.”
UK Pushes Charges After Just Three Percent of Forced Marriage Reports https://t.co/txeCqbFDAJ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 4, 2018
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