Several political panellists including MPs and leading political commentators, descended on the Trinity Centre on Tuesday evening in Bristol to debate the reasons why Britain should remain in the European Union, as part of a ‘Another Europe Is Possible’ debate series organised by Momentum – the newly-formed youth wing of the Labour Party.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton and Hove; Owen Jones, prolific Guardian columnist; Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol, Joanne Kaye, Unison; and Nigel Costley, Welsh TUC; made up the 5 strong panel, with issues such as the continued protection of the NHS and the BBC, the support (or lack thereof) of the widely-criticised Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and stopping Boris Johnson from becoming the next Prime Minister covered over a 90 minute conversation, with audience questions interspersed in dialogue at the end of the formal debate.
What was clear, was that the future of Britain, and our country’s placement within the European Union, is on a knife’s edge; with both sides of the political campaigning turning to slander and catfighting as the voter registration deadline looms.
If you haven’t yet registered to vote (or to vote via the Postal Voting system, if you’re going to Glastonbury this year) – you have until 7th June to register to vote in the EU referendum.
To hear the audience questions segment, listen to the clip below; including a question from the Editor; Does Sadiq Khan’s sharing of the Remain platform with David Cameron create a rift between McDonnell and Khan’s Labour?
Consensus was reached by the panel that, were Britain to leave the EU, TTIP would be signed into law with the US and other European nations over the course of the coming months; meaning that our cash-strapped NHS would be opened up to international lawsuits by corporations on the barriers preventing the free market economy – in the particular section of TTIP titled ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’.
The wider feeling within Westminster is, regardless of whether Britain exits or remains in the EU, Jeremy Hunt – the current and widely polarising Health Secretary – must go. Whether this means the junior doctors contract, still not written into law due to the balloting of junior doctor BMA members – the results of which will be announced mid-June.
Owen Jones made a very good point insofar that the Vote Leave candidates – such as Boris Johnson and current Justice Secretary Michael Gove, had previously voted to cut NHS funding and budgets, but now parade around the £130m figure that the UK is said to contribute to the EU each week, and how that money could be better spent plugging the gaps in the NHS’s budget.
What happens if Brexit becomes reality?
Nearly all panellists were adamant that, where Brexit to go ahead and Cameron were to be ousted, Boris Johnson would be the next in line but that this would be the absolute worst thing for the country. The Vote Leave campaign is a veritable Who’s Who of imbeciles, and – imagine this – they were in important roles within the BoJo reign where would they be? Michael Gove – the idiotic and totally unskilled Education Secretary as the new Phillip Hammond; Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs? Nigel Farage as Minister for Immigration?
If Brexit becomes a reality, Caroline Lucas came to the rescue; if you put right-wing bigotry into the EU, you will get xenophobia and right-wing sentiment coming out of it. Plain and simple.
What about between now and June 7th?
Owen Jones gave a riling opening speech, offering solace to the hearts and minds of those in attendance; he commended the work of UK Uncut for pushing tax evasion into the public sphere following the Panama Papers scandal; resulting in the resignation of the Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, amongst others.
Movements like UK Uncut, in this country, have driven the issue of tax avoidance onto the agenda and we haven’t had the measures that we want, but we’ve had something. And it’s only that something because people have campaigned and protested and fought, all over Europe to force change on their leaders whether they like it or not.
– Owen Jones speaking about the UK Uncut tax avoidance movement.
Joanne Kaye, the panellist from Unison made a brilliant final point: This referendum will not be won or lost due to TV and radio coverage; it will be decided by the one-on-one conversations you have in your communities. At your workplace. In your homes. At your schools. In your universities.
That is the most important point to take away.
It’s down to you. How much time you invest in the next month, to weigh up the pros and cons of staying or leaving the EU.
If you don’t, and the decision is one that you and I will have to live with, for the rest of our lives; whether you like it or not.
Register to vote? Great!