Boris Johnson has defended plans to require voters to prove their identity before casting ballots, despite condemnation from civil liberties groups and senior MPs on both sides of the Commons.
The Prime Minister said on Monday that it was “complete nonsense” to suggest he was trying to supress the votes of those who do not back the Tories by introducing the identification requirement.
Downing Street insisted it was a “reasonable approach” and that 99.6% of people in pilots requiring people to show photographic ID had managed to vote without difficulty.
Mr Johnson said the move, to be included in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday, is necessary to “protect democracy”, but Tory former Cabinet minister David Davis said it was an “illiberal solution for a non-existent problem”.
Campaigners also warned that people without ID would be disenfranchised as a result of the move, especially those in marginalised groups.
But asked if he was trying to limit votes for opposition parties, the Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: “I would say that was complete nonsense and what we want to do is to protect democracy, the transparency and the integrity of the electoral process, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask first-time voters to produce some evidence of identity.”
A Government spokesman later clarified the identification will be required “for all voters at polling stations” after Mr Johnson’s suggestion it could be limited to those voting for the first time.
The Tory 2019 manifesto committed to introducing the requirement to produce identification in order to vote at a polling station.
But Mr Davis told The Independent: “It’s yet another unnecessary ID card approach from the Government… There’s no evidence that I’m aware of that there is a problem with voter fraud at polling stations.”