Opinion: Should 16-17 year olds have a say on Brexit?

  • Manchester citizens share their thoughts on whether 16-17 year olds should get the vote
  • They say their future is going to be more affected by Brexit than anyone else's

As the due date for the UK to leave the EU draws close this year and a pressure for a second referendum is mounting, Manchester citizens speak to NQ about whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 and whether they should have had a say on Brexit.

Many brought up their opportunity to vote in the Scottish referendum and how Brexit should have been a similar case.

Law Graduate Shannon Johnson from Reddish said: “They were allowed to vote in the Sottish referendum as it would greatly impact their future and this decision has an equal impact on young people across Britain, if not more so. Brexit is going to have the biggest effect on the younger generations”

Shannon Johnson
Image courtesy of Shannon Johnson

It was also reported in the BBC that more young people are not voting for reasons such as distrusting the political parties and not being educated enough on these issues. This has also been debated in parliament.

Labour MP for Denton and Reddish Andrew Gwynne said:

I have consistently voted to lower the franchise in all elections to 16-year-olds including for the 2016 referendum.

The consensus seems to be that the younger generation need to use their voice now more than ever during this pressing time. Lord Heseltine talked about this in a podcast with Channel 4 about how young people are being ‘ignored over Brexit.’


Femi Oluwole is a co-founder of OFOC which stands for Our Future Our Choice – a campaign group led by young people campaigning for a people’s vote on the Brexit deal from February 2016 with a network of 30 students across the UK.

Femi Oluwole
Femi Oluwole from Our Future Our Choice, Picture taken from twitter with permission: Femi_Sorry

He said: “If 16-17-year olds are able to be economically active, they should have a say about their economy and if there’s ever an opportunity to give them a particular vote it should be on this issue. The average age someone will be when they first vote is 20 ½ so it’s not a surprise you have such low political engagement in younger ages. If you lower the voting age it will give them a reason to be politically engaged in these issues”

While the opportunity for them to vote in the 2016 referendum has passed, many are still campaigning against Brexit and calling for a second referendum saying that young people need to find their political voice.

Cath Moss is a part of the anti-Brexit campaign Manchester for Europe and believes that a second referendum is needed to correct the second and this can be an opportunity for 16-17-year olds to have a voice.

She said: “Young people need to find their voice and make their case about how much of their future is at stake. How this age bracket is affected also effects the older generation – if they decide to move out the UK after this result, who is going to look after the old?”