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MPs refuse to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in EU Referendum

Wednesday 09-12-2015 - 15:45

NUS is disappointed MPs have blocked the move to let 16 and 17-year-olds vote in the EU referendum.

The House of Lords attempt to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote was rejected by MPs on December 8. This means the voice of more than 1.5 million young people will be ignored in the referendum, even though they will bear the consequences of the vote.

At age 16 people can work, pay taxes, leave home, get married, join the armed forces and make other crucial decisions about their futures - but they do not get a say in how our country is run.

Being allowed to vote in the referendum would have inspired 16 and 17-year-olds to be more politically active, instead they are being excluded completely.

Megan Dunn, NUS National President, said: “It is extremely disappointing MPs have blocked 16 and 17-year-olds from voting in the EU referendum. The outcome will affect young people more than anyone else, so it is only right they get to have their say.

“Unfortunately the government has ignored common sense and has shut 16 and 17-year-olds out of the debate. We have lost an opportunity to see more young people engaged in democracy. Young people have already proven they care about politics, with huge numbers turning out to vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

“NUS has long campaigned for the voting age to be lowered and we will continue to fight for students to get their voices heard.”

Ebbi Ferguson, NUS Wales Deputy President, said: “I am beyond disappointed that 16 and 17-year-olds have been denied the right to vote in the European referendum. The long term impact of the referendum will be enormous and those that will live with the consequences for the longest will not be able to make their voices heard. Politicians keep spinning the rhetoric of wanting to listen to and engage with young people, but with their next action silence our voices.

“As young people, we are often told we need to take responsibility for our futures. How are we supposed to do so if our decision-making powers are stripped from us? How are we to develop engaged citizens if we are continually side-lined when faced with the biggest political decisions of our age? I look forward to 2021, when given the political will at the moment, the Welsh government will give 16-year-olds the vote - that day can’t come soon enough.”

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