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'We will get a red Christmas': Corbyn pledges to lower voting age to 16 in campaign promise to youths

The Labour leader came under fire after saying he would not take sides in a second public vote.

Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of the party's youth manifesto this morning
Jeremy Corbyn at the launch of the party's youth manifesto this morning
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Nov 23rd 2019, 3:39 PM

LABOUR LEADER JEREMY Corbyn has offered students a vision for “hope” as he unveiled a youth manifesto pledging £1 billion investment and votes at 16.

The Labour leader received huge applause when he told supporters at Loughborough University on Saturday of plans to end pay “discrimination” and give a £10 minimum wage to all.

In an attempt to energise his campaign, he encouraged the crowd to hit the streets campaigning ahead of the December 12 election in order to bring a “red Christmas”.

Addressing a packed student union club lined with red neon lights, he said: “This election is all about the future and hope for young people in our society.

“A Labour government that will deliver for all people in the future is a prize within our grasp, but it’s not going to be handed to us on a plate.

“You’ve seen the attacks we are getting in some of the billionaire-owned media at the moment.

“But I tell you what, don’t do personal, don’t reply, just relentlessly go out there with the policies we’ve got, the determination we’ve got to put them into operation, and then, in the cold misery of a wet November and December, we will get a red Christmas and a great spring with a Labour government.”

Earlier, Corbyn defended his decision to remain “neutral” in a second EU referendum, saying it is a sign of “strength and maturity”.

The Labour leader came under fire after disclosing he would not take sides in the proposed public vote on a new Brexit deal which the party intends to negotiate with Brussels if it leads the next government.

On an election campaign stop in Sheffield, Corbyn insisted he is offering a “sensible way forward” which can finally bring the country together.

“I think being an honest broker and listening to everyone is actually a sign of strength and a sign of maturity,” he said.

“My role as the Labour prime minister would be to ensure that is carried out in a fair way, that the offers put are fair, and that I will carry out the result of that referendum.

‘Absence of leadership’

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Labour leader’s stance “won’t wash” with the electorate.

“He has actively decided to be indecisive on the biggest issue of the day. It won’t wash with voters,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Saturday programme.

“I think it is an absolute disaster. You can’t ask this country to be its prime minister while not having a view on the biggest issue of the day.” 

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson branded Corbyn a “bystander”, accusing him of  “an absence of leadership” on what she said was the biggest issue facing the UK in generations.

“I think it is quite astonishing that Jeremy Corbyn is refusing to say… not even just refusing to say now where he stands on remaining or leaving the European Union, but is basically saying that he is never going to tell people what he thinks about that,” she said during a campaign visit to the Design Museum in west London this morning.

general-election-2019 Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson during a visit to the London design museum Source: PA Wire/PA Images

But Corbyn was not the only leader to endure a rough ride from the audience for the Question Time special in Sheffield.

Boris Johnson was challenged over his trustworthiness and “racist rhetoric” while Swinson came under pressure for her pledge to stop Brexit if the Lib Dems win the election.

However, Swinson insisted she was not disappointed with how the TV event went.

She said: “I’m very proud of standing up for what I believe in. I think it’s important to have that authenticity in politics. And I have had a lot of good feedback and I look forward to future opportunities to discuss issues with the public.”

Asked if she thought she had faced a tougher time than the other leaders, Ms Swinson said: “People can make up their own minds about that.”

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