Should we stay or should we go now? Discovery Park hosts EU debate
Posted on 18/02/16
Discovery Park is one of the major centres in Europe for research and development with a reach that extends around the globe – making it a perfect choice for arguing the pros and cons of divorcing our neighbours across the English Channel.
A referendum on whether the UK should stay in or leave the European Union could take place as soon as June this year with an event held in The Gateway building on Wednesday night (17/2) allowing campaigners on both sides to set out their stall.
Laura Sandys, former MP for Thanet South and Liberal Democrat Antony Hook represented the pro-EU side of a four strong panel that also included Brendan Chilton from Labour Leave and entrepreneur Richard Tice, co-founder of Leave.EU, the organisers of the two-hour debate.
The at times vibrant discussion started with opening addresses from the panel with Laura Sandys getting things underway with a warning that if the UK left the table it risked finding itself on the menu – at the mercy of decisions made over which it would have no control.
“It is critical,” she said, “that we stay in and fight our corner.”
Brendan Chilton, a councillor in Ashford, opened the Brexit side of the argument, criticising EU policies over fishing and farming; questioning the economic impact on countries outside Europe and calling for progressive immigration ‘based on skills and need.’
Antony Hook, a lawyer by profession, looked back at history, saying moves towards greater integration in Europe following the end of the second world war had brought ‘peace and prosperity’ to the continent and a greater understanding between nation states.
He also said claims of the high cost to the UK of being part of Europe were wide of the mark, calculating it cost each citizen of the 27 member states just 50p per person per day.
Richard Tice brought the opening arguments to a conclusion, arguing that the settlement being sought by the Prime Minister with EU leaders would be ‘worthless’ without fundamental reform, including action on the cost of membership and giving the UK back control of own laws.
Leaving the EU would, he claimed “leave the UK as a slick cruiser accelerating through the waves and not linked to an EU oil tanker.”
Opened to the floor questions included what the impact of custom controls and border bureaucracy would be if the UK decided to leave and the experience of countries like Norway, which is not a part of the EU but still bound by its rules.
Paul Barber, Managing Director, Discovery Park, said:
“We were delighted to be able to host this important event, with more than 150 people coming along to listen to what the panel had to say and ask questions.
“Discovery Park is right on the doorstep of Europe and it was interesting to hear the arguments from both sides of the debate. It will certainly have given those who came along much food for thought.”