Keir Starmer accused of trying to ‘reopen Brexit’ and ‘lay the groundwork’ for a new referendum with Labour plan to give millions of EU nationals the vote in general elections
- Labour set to offer massive expansion of voting franchise in their manifesto
Sir Keir Starmer was today accused of trying to ‘reopen’ the Brexit deal after Labour plans to give millions of EU nationals a vote in UK general elections were revealed.
Cabinet minister Grant Shapps accused the Labour leader of seeking ‘personal advantage’ with proposals to widen the electorate.
It followed a report that Labour will offer the biggest expansion of the voting franchise in almost a century in their general election manifesto.
This will include votes for settled migrants and 16 and 17-year-olds, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
Tories have angrily accused Sir Keir of attempting to ‘gerrymander’ the UK’s voting system to benefit his party, as well as ‘laying the groundwork for a referendum to rejoin the EU’.
Sir Keir Starmer was accused of trying to ‘reopen’ the Brexit deal after Labour plans to give millions of EU nationals a vote in UK general elections were revealed
Tories angrily claimed Sir Keir was attempting to ‘gerrymander’ the UK’s voting system to benefit his party
Cabinet minister Grant Shapps said the Labour leader was seeking ‘personal advantage’ with proposals to widen the electorate
Sir Keir, who previously backed a second Brexit referendum, has also been accused of ‘laying the groundwork for a referendum to rejoin the EU’
Labour frontbencher Jonathan Reynolds this morning acknowledged that expanding the voting franchise was ‘something we will look at’.
The shadow business secretary stressed the reported proposals were ‘not the final plans for the Labour manifesto’ – but added the party is ‘always looking at ways to strengthen our democracy’.
It has been claimed the Labour plans would hand a vote in general elections to 3.4million EU nationals in Britain, who have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK through ‘settled status’.
A further 2.7million have been granted ‘pre-settled’ status – limited leave to remain – and could reportedly be given voting rights in the future.
Currently, EU nationals in the UK can only vote in local elections, or contests for the Scottish and Welsh parliaments.
Asked about the reported Labour plans to extend voting rights for EU nationals to general elections, Mr Shapps insisted the Government was not planning to ‘change the electoral system’.
He accused Sir Keir of ‘reopening the Brexit settlement’, telling Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday show: ‘This is a settlement we had made with EU countries to have reciprocal arrangements so that British citizens abroad are able to vote in, for example, the local elections say in Spain and the same here.
‘What he plans to do is actually reopen the Brexit settlement. So, what else will he reopen? The Windsor Framework, the cooperation agreement with Europe?
‘This again is Keir Starmer doing whatever he thinks is practical to do at that moment in time or in his personal advantage to do at that moment in time.
‘He doesn’t have fundamental ideas that he relies on and as I say, his original platform is now shifting to a different platform and he will do the same with reopening Brexit.’
Fellow Tory MP and ex-Brexit Minister David Jones also hit out at the Labour proposals and accused Sir Keir of a ‘patent attempt to gerrymander the voting system in the UK, which should be rejected by all reasonable politicians.’
He added: ‘Even when we were in the EU, EU nationals here couldn’t vote in general elections in this country.
‘It makes no logical sense at all now that we have left. But then Starmer has spent the last seven years trying to water down Brexit.’
A Conservative spokesman said: ‘Allowing foreigners to vote is Sir Keir Starmer’s admission that he doesn’t trust the British people.
‘He is laying the groundwork for a referendum to rejoin the EU, something he campaigned so passionately for. And now he wants to rig the outcome.’
Sir Keir, who previously called for a second EU referendum, branded the treatment of EU residents after the Brexit vote as ‘shameful’ during his campaign to be Labour leader in January 2020.
He said at the time: ‘The Government should give all EU nationals living in the UK full voting rights in future elections.’
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