Loughborough University are hosting the #EUandYOU debate, led by PHIR and attended by students of Loughborough. A packed lecture hall in Brockington this Tuesday evening sees various speakers opening with speeches of three minutes each.
A poll questioning the room on eligibility to vote begins the evening- over 90% are eligible, whilst 5% don’t know. The options we will be confronted with this June will be “Remaining a member of the European Union” or “Leaving the European Union. An initial poll shows 84% of the room would vote to remain.
Intros from campaigners
The floor has been handed to the campaigners from various groups; the first speech comes from the “Leave” campaign, Jamie Martin, states that he has only developed this opinion in the last 8 months or so. He believes that leaving will allow open trading with the World; controlled immigration and more access to talented people from outside the EU and in terms of regulations. He thinks it would give more power to the people over politicians. He asks “Why would you want to tie us to the only part of the World economy that is failing to grow?” (EU). Jamie discusses various policies concerning agriculture and taxes relating to this. “Over 90% of STEM Grads will be from outside the EU by 2020”, said in relation to immigration. He believes “WE CAN” do it outside of the European Union, and that we need to break out to become a successful trading country. (Jamie was given longer as the only Leave speaker present at this point).
Kate Godrey from “Stronger In” asks the group to check a Donald Trump “Snake” video on their phones, showcasing racism and that the Leave campaign shared it, calling this “dangerous politics”. She said that to date no international leader believes in Britain leaving the EU. “We’re talking about YOUR jobs, future and not taking a risk that we don’t need to take”.
Tony Homewood from a Leave campaign states “The EU is slowly becoming obsolete”, he talked about food code and rules on this and how global organisations create legislation. He has discussed the lack of power of MEPs in the EU and the lack of power we have in voting and in maintaining our connections.
John Schnee states that we should forget the facts. He comes from a previously Communist Czechoslovakia. He states that the future is unpredictable and that we should be thinking about the problem, and ask oneself two questions- “are problems because of membership in the EU…will these problems be solved if we leave? Leaving can only solve a small proportion of a problem, and we should bare these questions in mind.” […] “We are part of Europe and we cannot leave any more than we can leave the Solar System”[…] “Is it the best way to engage?” He ended by suggesting that we should lead Europe and not think about leaving.
Marina Prentoulis says that it should be about politics and that there are problems with the EU. She says that the EU is dominated by Conservative Governments and that this needs to change- starting at a national level, we cannot change Europe wide unless we change nationally first. She does not think that the EU is undemocratic, Tony Homewood believes otherwise! Marina believes in changing this and ensuring that we have more power on a national level. She is clearly very passionate about her area!
The debate has been given to the floor, with student questions welcome. One student states that the EU is “undemocratic” and addresses this to (Greek), Marina, who says that Greece voted against austerity. She believes it is undemocratic but only because of national politics (summarised).
Jamie states that if Jeremy Corbyn were to win the next election, he would not be able to make the changes that he wanted to.
There is speculation on the closure of the Suez Canal, and responses concerning the value of the pound decreasing.
There is a discussion on trade agreements. “90% of big companies and 80% of mid-companies advocate STAY”- because of trade security. This point is argued by Kate. Jamie believes that businesses are completely split on the matter. He believes that better chances for start-ups and smaller businesses would benefit from leaving. In terms of being a “Global economy” and “outside of EU migration” […] “we should vote to leave”.
There are various questions on the growth of the economies and the apparent stagnation of the EU economy in comparison with other world economies. Why are we sending £350 million a week to EU? And finally, should we be pushing STEM research in the UK, hence there would be less need to focus on the outside as opposed to the inside of the EU? One student argues that we are having the referendum too early.
In response, Jamie is a believer that we are stronger as part of the wider world instead of “closing ourselves off as a small part of one continent”.
Kate argues that leaving would increase taxes by 3%. She believes that we could lose competitive advantages and we ask to be able to trade on equal terms. She believes that farm produce could suffer.
There are many more various responses, in relation to opening ourselves to the new world as a result of leaving, both positive and negative.
The debate is now passed over to academics who give opening speeches.
Dr Paul Maddrell says we have influence over other European Governments, whereas in contrast we have no influence over Governments in Asia. By 2045, he says that Britain would have a much smaller economy should we leave. Democracy or leave? He says we would give ourselves less influence- which is the influence used to give jobs.
Professor Alistair Blair has written a couple of books on the EU and is yet to come up with an argument to leave. Leaving the EU would bring no guarantee on money back for farmers etc. He believes that we’re focussed on too big a debate. “The EU is like a marriage of countries- there’ll always be problems with it, which would back up leave arguments, but would also support remain”. He says “productivity” in Britain is actually nothing to do with the EU.
Dr Nikola T. comments on the UK’s place in the World, (he states that comes from Serbia). Does the UK deal with the rest of the World alone or as part of something bigger? From his research he says that he find that the UK has so much more leverage on the World scene as part of something bigger, in terms on NATO and the EU as crisis managers. He agrees that the debate is not about facts of the future, but on political views. “Fact” is that the UK has more influence on foreign policy as part of the EU.
Professor James Stanyer considers the risks of staying or leaving the EU. Information for voters is lacking and he comments on the power of the Eurosceptic press. “Press circulation is declining” but only preaches to the converted. He pleas with everyone to seek a variety of information from different sources.
Dr Borja Garcia opens saying he is unable to vote, however this doesn’t stop his opinions. Art, Culture and “Football” bring Europe together. Policies of the EU allow these kinds of discussions to happen. In terms of values, do you want to do things on your own or together? “The EU has brought the longest time of peace and prosperity in history”.
PhD student, Jon Bigger believes we’ve been given a “wretched choice”. He says it is about capitalism and how it can work for everybody- thus actually creating inequality. This is about choosing the next generation of ruling class. “Following an anarchist example, we could avoid the vote altogether- stay at home!”
Dr Marco Antonsich believes that the facts are scare-mongering. “Two different languages appeal to a nation. We want to go back to sovereignty and democracy […] apparently two different languages”. “WE is articulated around the nation”. In history “Britain has nothing to do with Europe”. He states that “the channel is still there” and that “the Commonwealth is still of importance”. He hopes that Europe can be something other than Nationalism.
“No-one has mentioned cultural integration? (Essentially) will this change integration, language etc?”
Finally someone brings up cultural integration how this will affect students-what will happen to ECREA and ERASMUS if we leave?#EUandYou
— Shani Burke (@ShaniBurke20) May 10, 2016
>>”The moment you leave you’re automatically less important (in relation to TTIP).” (summarised).
“How will financial sectors be impacted upon?”
“What is the future of the EU and Europe and where would Britain be in that future?”
There is a lot of discussion surrounding how the EU and institutions will affect everyone high up, and probably never affect most people “lower down”.
A few of the closing ideas…
There are a few closing ideas on Brussels, “corporatist racket” and Jamie from Leave believes that the “Leave” side has been underrepresented- the country is split 50:50. The chair of the debate, Helen, confirms that they worked hard to represent both sides and provide a gender balance. Kate quotes ‘The Sun’ having said that the *industries* don’t matter. She is a leading activist fighting TTIP. Marina believes that the media haven’t properly communicated the EU Referendum. John Schnee enhances his points and says that “the EU is different before and after the refugee crisis- it evolves and reacts- Where would you like to be? – we can influence it”. He pleas with everyone to vote because “it is very close!”.
A final poll of the room shows that 81% of the room would STAY and 19% want to LEAVE.
Poll changes may be affected by members of the group leaving before the end, abstaining or other uncontrollable factors.
Apologies are sent for any omissions of interesting ideas raised during the fast-paced debate.
Tweet #EUandYOU to get involved and find out what others thought.
If you would like to share your opinions on the EU Referendum, the campus debate or anything related, please email LabelEditor@lsu.co.uk.