Britain's parliament has voted against reducing the voting age for a referendum on EU membership, due by 2017. A proposal to lower the age to 16 years was seen to benefit the pro-European 'in' vote.
The British House of Commons has blocked an attempt by the upper House of Lords to give 16 and 17-year-olds a vote in the upcoming in-out referendum on membership of the European Union. The referendum is due to be held before the end of 2017.
The un-elected members of the House of Lords had voted to let young people have a say on EU membership. They had argued that young people would be most affected by the decision and as many as possible should take part in the vote.
But MPs voted on Tuesday by 303 to 253 to reject an amendment to the European Union Referendum Bill that would have lowered the voting age from 18 to 16 for the referendum.
The opposition Labour Party, Scottish National Party, Greens, and Liberal Democrats all supported extending the general voting age to 16 years, but the ruling Conservatives opposed the move.
Conservative justice minister Lord Faulks had said that the move could "seriously undermine the legitimacy of the referendum" by appearing to favor one side over the other. Younger people are believed to want to stay in the EU, more than older citizens.
The Scottish government's minister for Europe, Humza Yousaf described the move as "wrong and pig-headed:"
There is a large eurosceptic lobby in the ruling Conservative Party and Prime Minister David Cameron is currently negotiating with the EU for changes in Britain's terms of membership with the bloc.
Cameron has described the discussions as "bloody hard work." On Monday, Donald Tusk, President of European Council (photo) gave Cameron a February 2016 deadline to complete the EU renegotiation.