Boris Johnson provoked alarm tonight by suggesting his plan to demand photo ID at polling stations would be aimed at “first-time voters” - most of whom vote Labour.

The Prime Minister already faced accusations of vote suppression by pressing ahead with the new law despite there being no evidence of in-person voter fraud in the UK.

A Government spokesperson said: “Showing identification to vote is a reasonable approach to combat the inexcusable potential for voter fraud in our current system and we are committed to introducing an identification requirement for all voters at polling stations."

The PM was asked why he was planning to force all voters to bring photo ID to cast their ballot - given he himself branded ID cards “a recipe for tyranny and oppression”, and there are only a handful of claims of in-person voter fraud in the whole country each year.

He was also asked what he’d say to people who brand the policy voter suppression, given it’s said Labour voters are said to be less likely to possess ID.

Mr Johnson replied: “I would say that was complete nonsense.

“What we want to do is 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.

“So that’s the reason.”

The PM's remarks sparked alarm
The PM's remarks sparked alarm

Just 21% of 18-24-year-olds - the people most likely to be “first-time voters” - voted Conservative in 2019.

Some 56% voted Labour.

A pilot scheme conducted by the government in 2019 suggested more than 120,000 voters across the country could be turned away from polling stations because they don’t have ID.

In total, out of more than 32 million votes cast in the 2019 general election, there were no cases of in-person voter fraud of the kind that would be prevented by voter ID.

The scale of in person voter fraud in 2017

Electoral Commission

There were two in the same year's European Parliament elections. In one case, a man voted once for himself and a second time for his son. He was fined £50, banned from voting for five years and handed an eight month suspended sentence.

The other man gave his father's name at a polling station and was given a police caution.

In a paper when the 2019 pilot scheme was announced, the Electoral Commission admitted certain groups of the population were less likely to have acceptable forms of ID.

They include young people, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, women and the elderly.

The PM made the remarks at a No10 briefing
The PM made the remarks at a No10 briefing

They suggested this problem could be solved by introducing a free 'voter card', which citizens would have to apply for before casting their ballot - at a cost to the country of up to £11 million.

The Government's own research found the public's faith in the UK in-person voting system is incredibly high - with 85-90% saying in-person voting was fairly safe or very safe.

Research by the LA Times in 2018 showed that the racial turnout gap doubled or tripled in states with strict voter ID laws.

People from Latino communities were 7.1% less likely to vote if they had to show ID.

The draconian measures were pushed through by Republicans in the United States despite research showing voter fraud was essentially nonexistant.

Between 2000 and 2014 there were 31 credible instances of voter fraud in the United States out of more than a billion votes cast.

There was a significant case of voting fraud in Tower Hamlets in 2016. But that was postal fraud.

Voter ID would not have prevented this, and the government currently has no plans to tighten up restrictions on postal ballots - despite polls showing the public having dramatically less faith that they are secure.

The Government spokesperson said: “The wealth of evidence from both our pilots and decades of use in Northern Ireland shows that voter ID does not impact turnout. Instead it will deliver a manifesto commitment to crack down on the potential for different forms of voter fraud and intimidation, further strengthening the integrity of UK elections.”

This is not entirely true.

In the Government's pilot schemes, as many as 0.4% of voters were turned away at polling stations and did not return. Expanded through the country, that's potentially more than 127,000 disenfranchised voters.

Also, turnout dropped dramatically in Northern Ireland elections following the introduction of compulsory ID in 2002.

Turnout was 70% in 1998, dropping to 64% in 2003, 62.9%in 2007, 55.7% in 2011 and 54.9% in 2016.

It increased to 64.78% in 2017, but remained below the level seen before the introduction of voter ID.