Labour attempted to change electoral law in order to give millions of migrants the right to vote in the UK.
Shadow frontbenchers last year called in the Commons and the Lords for the ‘enfranchisement of certain foreign nationals at parliamentary elections’.
They tabled amendments to the Elections Act 2022 – the controversial law that introduced voter ID – to extend the vote to anyone with the ‘right of abode’ in the UK.
The proposals would have covered EU citizens with ‘settled status’ in Britain and other overseas arrivals with ‘indefinite leave to remain’, covering those who have lived and worked in the UK for five years or who have family here.
Shadow elections minister Alex Norris put down the amendment in the Commons, but it was not put to a vote and he did not address it in debate.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer insisted this week that giving EU nationals the vote was not official party policy
Labour attempted to change electoral law in order to give millions of migrants the right to vote in the UK. Pictured: People queue outside a polling station in East London in 2019
Labour’s levelling up spokesman Baroness Hayman did the same in the Lords and made a separate demand that ministers make ‘a statement to Parliament on voting and candidacy rights of EU citizens’ before the law took force.
But her amendments were also withdrawn, with Tory frontbencher Earl Howe observing in the Lords debate: ‘The right to choose the next UK Government is rightly restricted to British citizens and those with the closest historical links to our country.
‘In this respect, the UK is in line with international norms. Citizenship is the normal criterion for participating in national elections in most democracies.’
It comes despite Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer insisting this week that giving EU nationals the vote was not official party policy.
After he was accused of a plot to rig elections and reverse Brexit by giving millions of migrants and 16-year-olds the vote, he claimed: ‘There’s no settled policy here, we’re looking at them.’
Last night Conservative backbencher Brendan Clarke-Smith said: ‘Britons cannot vote in other countries’ elections and there is no reason why we should give that right to millions of migrants who have not obtained citizenship here.’
Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson said: ‘Labour need to come clean about the extent of their plans, attempting to rig the next election.’
Lara Parizotto, a Labour councillor who campaigns on the issue and is co-director of the Migrant Democracy Project, claimed Sir Keir has long backed giving all migrants the vote, not just EU citizens who have settled in the UK.
Mr Starmer was accused of a plot to rig elections and reverse Brexit by giving millions of migrants and 16-year-olds the vote, he claimed: ‘There’s no settled policy here, we’re looking at them’
Conservative backbencher Brendan Clarke-Smith (pictured) said: ‘Britons cannot vote in other countries’ elections and there is no reason why we should give that right to millions of migrants who have not obtained citizenship here’
Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson (pictured) said: ‘Labour need to come clean about the extent of their plans, attempting to rig the next election’
She told LBC Radio: ‘In 2021 at Labour Party Conference, I asked Keir Starmer directly whether he supports that extension of the rights to vote to every resident, every nationality and he was supportive of it.
‘And if we check the amendments Labour submitted to the Elections Bill in 2021 and 2022, we already find evidence that amendments were tabled to extend the right to vote to every settled resident in the UK.’
In a video online showing Ms Parizotto asking Sir Keir at Labour’s 2021 conference if he agrees that all residents of the UK should have voting rights, he replies: ‘I’m in favour of voting rights for everybody who has contributed to our society.’
It also emerged yesterday that lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 would be an ‘urgent’ priority for a future Labour government.
A draft copy of the likely blueprint for the party’s election manifesto, compiled by the National Policy Forum and obtained by Politico, states: ‘Any proposed change to our voting system must be carefully thought through – it cannot be dictated by political leaders or forced upon the country from the top down.
‘However, there are some urgent steps that can be taken to restore faith in our democracy. Labour will introduce votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, in line with Scotland and Wales, so that young people feel empowered and can fully engage in our democratic processes.’
British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens can vote for MPs, while EU citizens who have lived in the UK since before the end of 2020 can take part in council elections.