Wirral’s youngest councillor ‘inspired’ by Brexit to get involved

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A 19-year-old Wirral councillor is striving to get young people more interested in politics after he was elected earlier this month.

Conservative councillor Max Booth, the youngest elected member of Wirral Council, won by 886 votes in Moreton West and Saughall Massie in the May 6 vote.

He hopes to engage young voters in the area despite being passionately in favour of Brexit, something 75% of those aged 18-24 nationally are estimated to have voted against in 2016.

Discussing how he got into politics, Cllr Booth told the ECHO : “It was all to do with Brexit a couple of years ago, it got me involved in college debate and discussion.

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“Brexit was very inspiring, it was different to other debates, talking about taking back control and all the mantras of the leave campaign, it was inspiring and intriguing especially as a young person.”

Cllr Booth acknowledged that many people his age did not agree with his pro-Brexit views, but he did not think this would stop him appealing to young people in Wirral.

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The Tory councillor, who is currently studying Politics and International Relations at Liverpool John Moores University, said: “Through college and university, I definitely noticed I was in the minority in my age group on stuff about Brexit and the Conservative Party.

“But I’m quite good at interacting with people, taking away some of the bigger issues, then we don’t disagree on too much about the basic principles and direction of the country.

“It’s pretty basic things. I support local services and youth services. Moreton Youth Centre [a local youth club] has fallen into disrepair and isn't open at the moment, everyone across the political spectrum disagrees with that.”

With a focus on local issues and an enthusiasm to improve services for residents, Cllr Booth said even former Labour voters were showing signs they might be prepared to cross the political divide and vote for him.

Talking specifically about how he would improve things for young people, Cllr Booth said: “It’s about giving them more opportunities to engage, through surgeries, chats, community action days and group discussions.

“Avenues to speak and discuss mental health issues or whatever their concerns may be.

“Speaking to charity shops in Moreton, they would love to have a couple of people aged 16-18 one weekend a month to help out.

“I want to help young people to get a foot in the job market and build those stepping stones within the local community to build upon their wider career prospects.”

The Moreton West and Saughall Massie councillor thought youth engagement in politics was going in the right direction.

He added: “More young people I speak to are looking to engage and vote. It’s about providing more opportunities to engage and co-operate.”

Outside of youth issues, Cllr Booth said he had other key priorities which he would focus his time as a councillor on.

Cllr Booth said: “There are two really important issues, greenbelt being one of them with the [upcoming] local plan [a document laying out where homes will be built].

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“Saughall Massie village is a conservation area surrounded by greenbelt and it is something we want to preserve and protect.

“[As well as this] people were made to struggle through lockdown. I know how much government loans and the furlough scheme helped a lot of people and we need to build on that.

“The council needs to support local businesses so that we don’t see boarded up shops and we encourage people to support local businesses.”