Grant Shapps says that Starmer wants to ‘reopen’ Brexit
Keir Starmer is trying to reopen Brexit to force Britain back into the EU, furious leading Tories warned on Sunday night.
They claimed the Labour leader was preparing a “sinister” plot in which millions of EU citizens would be allowed to vote in general elections.
Sir Keir was accused of “rigging” the system in order to hold another referendum on membership of the Brussels bloc – including by allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote, in the belief they will back Labour.
Tory Party chairman Greg Hands condemned the scheme to give migrants who live permanently in the UK and pay tax the chance to choose MPs.
It is expected to be in Labour’s next manifesto.
Mr Hands said: “Labour’s plan to give foreign nationals the vote at Parliamentary elections is laying the groundwork to drag the UK back into the EU by stealth. Sir Keir spent years trying to block Brexit and overturn the largest democratic vote in this country’s history…this is an attempt to rig the electorate to re-join the EU.”
Mr Hands continued: “The right to vote in Parliamentary elections and choose the next UK Government is rightly restricted to British citizens and those with the closest historical links to our country.
“No other EU country allows EU citizens who are not their nationals to vote in Parliamentary elections.
“This Conservative Government is focused not on constitutional wrangling but providing immediate relief to families by halving energy bills and delivering on the people’s priorities: Halving inflation. Growing the economy. Reducing debt. Cutting waiting lists. Stopping the boats.”
Around 3.4 million EU nationals with “settled status” would be granted the right to vote, with a potential 2.6million more also likely to qualify.
Sir Keir also wants to open up the ballot box to some 1.4 million 16 and 17-year-olds.
Former Brexit Minister David Jones claimed that “flooding” Britain’s electoral register with EU citizens would allow Sir Keir to “drag the UK back into the EU”.
The Tory MP accused Sir Keir’s Labour Party of trying to “gerrymander [manipulate] our General Elections. No doubt, perhaps in coalition with the Lib Dems, they would also introduce Proportional Representation – a sure-fire way of securing the woolly, mushy, social democratic political system that is the ultimate ideal of the leftist metropolitan elite.”
Fellow Tory MP Craig Mackinlay said: “Expansion of the voting franchise is a serious matter.
“Democracy is not a plaything to be manipulated at will.
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“There is nothing to stop EU citizens becoming full UK citizens with the rights and duties that entails, including the right to vote in national elections.”
He went on: “If Labour plans to extend the franchise to any EU citizen with settled status this would be seen as gerrymandering to achieve permanent electoral advantage and if they could stage a re-run Brexit referendum – a long-established plan by Sir Keir – the likely outcome could be skewed by the millions of additional voters.
“EU member countries do not allow voting by non-citizens for long-settled reasons.
“The more we see Labour’s plans to destroy Britain, the more the electorate need to understand the new dystopian Year Zero world that they propose.
“Brexit is under threat; this was always Labour’s plan. Truly sinister.”
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps accused Sir Keir of trying to “reopen” the Brexit agreement. He added: “This is a settlement we made with EU countries to have reciprocal arrangements.
“So British citizens abroad are able to vote in, for example, the local elections in Spain and the same here.
“What he plans to do is reopen the Brexit settlement. So what else will he reopen? The Windsor framework, the co-operation 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 time.”
Polling experts say that migrants and teenagers are more likely to be Labour supporters.
Sir Keir’s plans would increase the size of the electorate by around eight percent and would be the biggest expansion of voters in almost a century.
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds admitted that Labour will “look at” extending the vote to EU nationals and to children.
He told Sophy Ridge on Sky News: “There are arguments for expanding the franchise…It’s something we will look at.”
Sir Keir attempted to block Brexit at least 48 times, either by directly voting against, by backing wrecking amendments or by voting against the secondary legislation that was needed to deliver it.
Tory MP Mark Jenkinson said on Sunday: “In his heart, Sir Keir knows he’ll drag us back into the EU at his first opportunity.
“I didn’t hear him fighting for UK nationals living in EU countries to be given the vote – his default response, as with Corbyn, is always to side with others.”
Mark Francois, chairman of the ERG group of Eurosceptic Tories, said: “I suspect the real reason Starmer wants to give EU citizens a vote in UK General Elections is, having been enfranchised, he hopes they might then vote for us to rejoin the EU as well, in a Lab/Lib-inspired second referendum campaign. Keir Starmer remains a Remainer and always will be – regardless of what he tells us in the run-up to a General Election next year.”
Who can vote
Rules vary across the UK for who and at what age you can vote in general or local elections, writes Chris Riches.
To vote in a UK Parliamentary election a person must be must be registered in the constituency, be 18 years-old or older, be British or a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, and not be a prisoner serving a jail sentence.
The right of some non-British residents, namely Commonwealth and Irish citizens, to vote in UK elections is a result of historic ties with the UK. But EU citizens cannot – just as Britons generally cannot vote in European country’s elections.
Irish citizens can vote if they are resident in the UK, as can Commonwealth citizens who are resident on our shores, have leave to remain in the UK or do not require leave to remain.
For local elections in England and Northern Ireland the rules are the same – except EU citizens resident in the UK may also vote as long as they meet age and residency requirements.
In Scotland, the main differences for local and Scottish Parliament elections are registered 16- and 17-year-olds can vote; all legally resident foreign nationals can also register to vote (not just EU nationals) and convicts serving 12 mnths or less can vote.
In Wales rules there have also been changed for Senedd Cymru and local elections, with again 16-17 year-olds able to vote and all resident foreign nationals – however convicted prisoners are still banned from voting.
These changes do not cover police and crime commissioner elections in Wales as these elections are a reserved matter for the UK Parliament.
Voting age will remain at 18 for PCC elections in Wales and only registered British, qualifying Commonwealth and Irish citizens will be able to vote
Brexit not to blame for downturn in exports
Brexit is not to blame for the post-pandemic downturn in exports, analysis of official trade figures shows, writes Sam Lister.
Remainers have claimed that the UK’s slower recovery than other leading nations is down to its departure from the European Union.
But a study by the Centre for Brexit Policy found the weak economic position is down to global factors, a heavy reliance on some sectors for overseas sales and cutbacks in North Sea oil and gas production.
The report found at least 80 percent of the shortfall in exports is down to factors other than Brexit.
Car and aerospace exports were hit by the pandemic, microchip shortages and the temporary collapse of air passenger travel.
The report said that made Britain more vulnerable to global events than other G7 nations.
Trade analyst Phil Radford said: “The UK’s particular mix of exports explains why UK trade was bound to underperform G7 countries in 2021 and 2022.
“The motor vehicle and aerospace sectors are easily our biggest goods-export industries in global terms. In 2019, for example, they delivered more than 20 percent of all UK goods exports.”
A fall in investment in the North Sea meant UK trade did not benefit from the energy crisis, while offshoring in the pharmaceutical industry meant the country also failed to gain from the spike in demand for vaccines.
The report found Brexit had a “trivial” effect on UK-EU trade compared to other factors.
It said the impact of problems in pharmaceuticals, the motor industry and energy combined to have a far bigger impact on exports than leaving the trade bloc.
Mr Radford said: “The UK–EU deficits in these three sectors are the result of policy choices by UK governments, and not shifts in global competitive advantage.
“Their impact on UK trade is multiple times worse than the impacts of Brexit on UK’s food, agriculture, jewellery and other sectors. And yet the challenges faced by the UK’s auto and pharma sectors in particular receive next-to-zero attention from British trade commentators.”
Rishi mocks Labour
Rishi Sunak mocked Labour’s plans to stop bosses contacting employees outside working hours.
The Prime Minister said that while he was “working night and day” for the country, “Labour wouldn’t even work weekends for the British public”.
Mr Sunak added the government is “working very hard to reform the system so that we can ensure that work always pays”.
Labour wants to copy legislation introduced in France that gives employees the “right to switch off.”
It is part of a “new deal for working people” that would include more flexible hours the party is planning to introduce.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said the “constant emails and calls outside of work should not be the norm” because they are “harming the work-life balance for many.”
Advertising tycoon Sir Martin Sorrell told the Mail on Sunday: “I find it unbelievable. I guess this will result in another blow to British productivity. I guess they believe this appeals to Gen Z voters [those under 30], but I’m not sure it will appeal to the whole electorate. In a service business, 24/7 availability for clients is essential. Opportunities and problems in businesses such as ours don’t crop up conveniently during office hours.”
John Caudwell, founder of Phones 4U, added: “Not only is it frightening but with all the challenges that we’ve got in life, with wars and the cost-ofliving crisis, it’s just so ridiculous. I can’t believe it. I don’t even know how it would work.
“It is completely beyond common sense to me. It’s bizarre in the extreme. It’s woke gone mad and I’m completely puzzled by it. If Labour have got nothing better to do than dream up legislation like that which is utterly destructive to society, to me that would make them utterly unelectable.”
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