The Lancaster MP’s claim that “At 16 you can have sex with your MP but you can’t vote for them” has caused a commotion online.
Cat Smith made the controversial statement and also used it as an attention-grabbing headline in her regular column on news website the Huffington Post as part of her campaign to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.
Her choice of words led to a mixed response from readers on Twitter and Facebook, but Ms Smith said she was glad to “get the debate going” about her wish to see 16 and 17 year olds get the vote.
In the column which caused a storm, she wrote: “During Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May confirmed her opposition to extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.
“We cannot accept this. This Conservative Government are denying 1.5m young people their full rights as citizens and their ability to influence decisions made by politicians about issues that massively affect their lives.
“At 16 you can have sex with your MP - but you can’t vote for them!
“You are eligible to pay tax, get married or even join the army. That is why the Labour Party have committed to reducing the voting age to 16 in our last three manifestos.”
A woman posting on the ‘Real Lancaster Past and Present’ Facebook site said: “As the mother of a young daughter, I think the way Cat Smith’s made these comments about having sex with sixteen year olds is appalling.”
Conservative magazine The Spectator also wrote an article in response questioning if Ms Smith was right to say “at 16 you can have sex with your MP” because it’s against the law for an over-18 to have sexual activity with an under-18 if the older person holds a position of trust.
But Ms Smith said she was happy her column had grabbed people’s attention.
“I thought I would go for a provocative headline and it’s got the debate going, which is what I want,” she said.
“I was trying to say that you can do some things at 16, but not do other things.I’ve met a lot of young people who are passionate about politics. They make some incredibly good arguments.
“I’m not suggesting that (having sex with your MP at 16) would be at all appropriate.
“But you can be elected as a Member of Parliament at 18 and if that person had a partner who was 16, nobody would bat an eyelid.”
You can read Cat’s full blog HERE.