General Election: Starmer wants to lower voting age to 16 and Sunak meets veterans

Sir Keir Starmer and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have been meeting voters on the first weekend of the election campaign

Sir Keir Starmer has said a Labour government would seek to lower the voting age for 16 and 17-year-olds.

The Labour leader, who has been campaigning in the West Midlands, said people old enough to work and pay tax should “have a say” in how their money is spent.

Asked by reporters in Staffordshire whether Labour would lower the voting age, Sir Keir said: “Yes, I want to see both 16 and 17-year-olds.

"If you can work, if you can pay tax, if you can serve in your armed forces, then you ought to be able to vote.”

Meanwhile, suggestions that Rishi Sunak is "taking the day off" have been dismissed by treasury minister Bim Afolami.

The Prime Minister met local veterans for breakfast after completing a whistle-stop tour of the UK.

Mr Sunak has challenged Sir Keir Starmer to weekly TV debates throughout the campaign and accused the Labour leader of ducking the offer because he “doesn’t have a plan”.

Labour sources indicated Sir Keir would be willing to take part in the two debates with the largest audiences – ITV and BBC.

We take a look at what political parties are doing on the first weekend since the July 4 General election announcement.


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meeting veterans in his constituency in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. Credit: PA

The Prime Minister had a breakfast with local ex-servicemen in a Wetherspoons in Northallerton, in his Richmond constituency, in the morning.

He joked that he avoided catching pneumonia after giving a rain-soaked statement outside 10 Downing Street in which he announced the July 4 election, but admitted he was not sure what state his suit was in.

“That’s our tradition, the Prime Minister, in the big moments, they call the election and they go out there. I thought, come rain or shine, it’s the right thing to do,” he told the veterans.

“But no pneumonia yet, my suit on the other hand… I’m not quite sure what state it will be in when I get back down to London.”

Meanwhile, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt signalled the party would seek to end the impact of tapering of personal allowances on larger incomes.

Workers lose £1 of their tax-free personal allowance for every £2 that their earnings go above £100,000, and anyone on more than £125,140 gets no allowance.

In an apparent bid to draw dividing lines with Labour, Jeremy Hunt used an interview with the Telegraph newspaper to dangle the prospect of a change to the current system.

“If you look at the distortions in the tax system between £50,000 and £125,000, they are bad economically because they disincentivise people from doing what we need, which is to work, work harder. And we are the party of hard work,” he said.

Asked if a Tory government would aim to correct these “distortions” in another five years, he said: “Yes.”


Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to to a local resident about the cost of living. Credit: PA

Sir Keir Starmer took his campaign trail to the West Midlands, where Labour challenger Richard Parker previously beat Andy Street to become the mayor of the combined authority region on May 2.

Starmer visited Stafford Rangers FC and met with local residents while out with Labour's candidate for the region.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves met with supermarket workers in London to talk about the cost-of-living crisis.

In an article on the front page of the Daily Mail, Ms Reeves said: “Back in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher proclaimed that the Conservatives were the party of sound money.

"But three decades on from when she left office, it was the Conservatives who crashed the economy, put pensions in peril and sent the average monthly mortgage repayments up by £240 a month.”

She added: “I will never play fast and loose with your money… I believe in sound money and public spending that is kept under control.”

Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey joins supporters for a dog walk near Winchester. Credit: PA

The Liberal Democrat leader was on the campaign trail in Chichester, West Sussex, where he said the Conservatives had "failed" on water pollution.

Sir Ed Davey said the the public were “alarmed” about the damage being done to rivers and seas in the UK and that it was an environmental, public health and economic issue.

In the run-up to the General Election, the Lib Dems have unveiled plans to abolish Ofwat and introduce a new water regulator to tackle the sewage crisis.

Sir Ed said: “The Liberal Democrats have been leading the campaign to highlight the problem for several years now and think we’ve really made traction and really exposed how the Conservative Government keeps failing people on this issue.

“Failing to get tougher regulations, failing to fine the water companies properly, failing to reform them and starting to get tough on them and stop this appalling pollution."


Leader of the SNP, John Swinney. Credit: PA

First Minister John Swinney is leading a "day of action" for the SNP as the first weekend of General Election campaigning begins.

Mr Swinney is travelling around Scotland as he and other party leaders plead their case.

He discussed SNP plans to end tuition fees, doubling of NHS funding, Scottish Child Payment, free bus travel for young, disabled and elderly people, and baby boxes.

Swinney said: "This General Election is the opportunity to put Scotland first and unite behind an alternative to austerity and the SNP’s message of hope – protecting the NHS, tackling the cost-of-living crisis and eradicating child poverty."

The first minister also announced a £300 million investment to drive down NHS waiting times in Scotland.

Reform UK

Leader of Reform UK Richard Tice speaking during a General Election campaign launch in Westminster. Credit: PA

Reform Party leader Richard Tice launched his campaign for the Lincolnshire seat of Boston and Skegness days after claiming Sunak is "absolutely terrified" of the threat posed by Reform UK.

Mr Tice will have to challenge Matt Warman, a Tory MP who has held the Boston and Skegness seat since 2015 and won out with a 25,000 vote majority back in 2019.

Reform is averaging around 11% in the polls, ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

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