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19th Jun 2024

Tory advisor says Scotland is not a country but a ‘region of the UK’

Jack Peat

This guy is paid six figures in Michael Gove’s department

A senior Conservative advisor has said Scotland is not a country but rather a “region of the UK” in a shocking outburst on Politics Live.

Henry Newman, who receives a six-figure salary to advise Michael Gove at the Levelling Up Department, shocked viewers after he made the remarks during a discussion on Labour’s manifesto pledge to give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in all elections.

The measure – set to hand voting rights to an extra 1.5 million teenagers – was one of the most high-profile commitments made by Sir Keir Starmer in the lead-up to his manifesto launch, and could shore up Labour support among a demographic which tend to be anti-Conservative.

As it stands, people aged 16 or over can vote in Holyrood and local elections in Scotland but cannot vote for MPs at Westminster, where the age limit is 18.

Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, denied Labour’s pledge to lower the age across the board was aimed at capitalising on his party’s significant lead over the Conservatives among younger voters.

He said: “The only age group that’s now supportive of the Conservatives are over 71. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 50, 40, 30, or 16.

“We want to extend the rights to 16- and 17-year-olds because I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Commenting on the move during a Politics Live discussion, Newman said: “I think we should of course listen to young people, who wouldn’t think that?

“But it’s Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, North Korea, Indonesia. These are the countries with votes under 18, and I think for this sort of big change …”

Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, could then be heard to chip in from off-screen to say: “Scotland.”

To which Newman responded: “Scotland isn’t a separate country but a region of the UK. It does have that.”

Watch the clip in full below: