The voting age could be lowered to 16 before the next election.
A growing number of Conservatives now back votes for 16-year-olds, with senior Tories predicting that the party could change its stance on younger voters before the next election.
Senior Conservative backbencher Sir Peter Bottomley said it was a “question of when rather than if” the party would eventually back the policy.
Other former ministers have also suggested the Conservatives should change their attitude towards lowering the voting age, including two former education secretaries – Justine Greening and Nicky Morgan.
Bottomley said the policy had enough support from the Tory backbenches to pass through parliament. “I think it would probably carry. Labour would vote in favour of it, so would every minority party, and a growing number of Conservatives support it,” he told the Evening Standard.
George Osborne, the former chancellor who now edits the Evening Standard, suggested he too was in favour. “More Tory MPs now support votes for 16yr olds,” he tweeted.
“By my count, [government] now doesn’t have a majority to stop it. Choice: lose in Commons, 16yr olds get vote and Tories lose even more support of young people; or back votes at 16 and get some credit for major social reform. Hmmm. Tough one.”
Writing on ConservativeHome website recently, Morgan said she would back a private member’s bill tabled by Labour MP Peter Kyle to lower the voting age to 16, saying those who were denied a vote at the EU referendum were “furious that their futures have been decided by those aged over 70”.
“Embracing votes at 16 would demonstrate to the next generation that the Conservative party has something to offer them,” she said. “Just as the Conservatives both delivered on and then fulfilled votes for women, it is time for us to take the next pragmatic leap forward and get on with votes at 16.”