Lib Dems call for referendum votes at 16

Cheltenham Liberal Democrats have called for the coming referendum of European Union membership to include 16 and 17 year olds just as in the recent Scottish referendum.  The bill to enable the European Union referendum to happen is expected to be announced in Wednesday's Queen's Speech.

The party's parliamentary spokesperson in Cheltenham, Martin Horwood, said: "Everyone agreed that one of the high points of the Scottish referendum campaign was the extension of the vote to 16 and 17 year olds. Far from being apathetic, young people rose to the challenge and were really politically engaged.  I think that's a really positive thing for democracy and, after all, it's their future we're voting on."

Joe Crossley, 17, current President of Cheltenham Liberal Youth said: "Getting involved with politics has brought home to me how important it is to allow young people to engage with issues that decide the future of our nation. Many of my friends feel disillusioned with the political system, but getting us involved in key issues like EU membership will make politics more accessible and allow us to engage with deciding our future".

Rosie Towle, a 17 year old student at Pate's Grammar School, said: "I think that lowering the voting age for the EU referendum would be a positive opportunity to educate younger people with regards to politics and the ways in which they can make a difference. Lowering the voting age in this case has the potential to engage young people, hopefully leading to higher voter turnout among under-25s at the next General Election"

With a tiny majority in the House of Commons and none at all in the House of Lords, David Cameron faces possible defeat over the plan to exclude 16 and 17 year olds from the European vote if opnly a handful of Conservative backbenchers are wavering, as reported in The Independent on Monday.

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