ASM Liveblogs….Aber INOUT EU Referendum Debate

Tonight we are coming to you live from the Aberystwyth INOUT EU Referendum Debate, hosted by the Aber “IN” campaign and the UKIP and pro-Brexit campaign. The event is due to start at 7:30pm, there are lots of people now filling up the Main Room in the Students’ Union for what should be an informing debate.

Tonight’s livebloggers are Maisie O’Brien (News Editor), Nick Saunders (Features Editor), and Alex Rees (Arts Editor).

All the speakers have now taken the stage and are waiting to begin for a healthy audience.

The moderater for the debate tonight is Professor Ryszard Piotrowicz. He is Professor of Law and specialises in international migration law and humanitarian law. He also advises the European Commission on law and policy with regards of trafficking in human beings.

The structure of tonight is as follows: an introduction of the speakers, followed by gauging the audience’s feelings about the referendum. The debate itself will focus on three topics with 20 minutes per section, followed by a Q&A session at the end.

The IN speakers for tonight are: Jean-Francois Poncet, James Clegg, Tina Becker

The OUT speakers for tonight are: Edward Ashdown, Harley Dalton, John Mousley

IN team member James Clegg praises the student turnout at tonight’s debate, stressing the importance of a strong student turnout for the referendum. 

OUT team member Harley Dalton was previously an IN campaigner; but has been swayed by peers  and through reading.

“If that’s for me, can you tell them I’m busy!” Piotrowicz remarks as a phone rings in the audience.

He asks for a show of hands for those in favour of remaining in the EU or Brexit. The hands are overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU.

First section of the debate: Economics

Jean Francois-Poncet is our first speaker and he highlights that a “75-year peace” has continued under the European Union. He argues that the single market has allowed us to combine the world’s strongest economies to our advantage.

Edward Ashdown suggests that, “If the EU were to introduce new trade tariffs should the UK leave, that would be against international agreement and law.”

Ashdown then goes on to talk about America and Obama’s suggestions that we’d be at the “back of the queue” in potential trade agreements before then highlighting Republican nominees views. Saying that Ted Cruz and other Republican nominees have stressed trade will continue if Britain leave the European Union; but Trump’s foreign policy puts US first

Jean Francois replies to Edward Ashdown stating that, “We absolutely can raise tariffs” and cites China as an example. Pointing to the fact that the Lisbon agreement leaves a 2 year period to negotiate trade deals.

It’s been 5 minutes into the first debate and Ashdown berates the “unelected beuacrats” (not the first time we’ve heard this rhetoric) of the European Union, that makes the market protectionist and uncompetitive.

Jean Francois for the IN campaign highlights that small enterprises support the IN campaign by 47%. Stating that most small businesses understand the importance of the EU. Big business are even more in support, with 81% reporting their interest in staying. This is in response to Ashdown’s statistics on business support of leaving the EU.

Second section of the debate: Social Issues

Harley Dalton opens this section by discussing what will be focused on, “We will be discussing immigration and social issues, some of you may think we will blame these on immigrants”

The emphasis is on the idea that they will be discussing immigration NOT immigrants, keen to point out that comments on immigration are not personal slurs.

He emphasises that immigration is not the sole concern or issue for the Leave campaign and that leaving the EU will help us better manage immigration by controlling it ourselves.

Clegg thanks Dalton for his “relatively tame” stance on immigration, but draws attention to prominent members of the OUT campaign that have expressed anti-immigration views, suggesting that they promote a “campaign of fear”.

Free access is a “myth” propagated by scaremongers, claims Clegg. How would we react, he asks, if there were a humanitarian crisis in this country?

Dalton points out that the OUT campaign is not a one point campaign.

He denies that the Leave campaign is playing a Fear play on immigration, which is met with audience laughter.

He points out that the EU asylum policy extends the definition of refugees to people who are from poor countries, “which could mean anyone from 95% of Africa”, which is met with groans from the audience. 

Dalton: “These are not actually refugees, but economic migrants” 

And he suggests that this has a negative effect on EU members, including the UK, with net migration is expected to go up by half a million a year.

Dalton: “We don’t know how many are coming, and an increase year on year, and this is unsustainable”

Clegg responds by saying that this isn’t sound advice to the population and suggests that Dalton’s numbers have been “pulled out of a hat. He points out that ‘up to’ is not a statement of fact.”

Clegg continues saying that the U.K is able to have its immigration policies because of its membership of the EU, including its rights to “opt out.”

Third section of the debate: Democracy and Institutions

Tina Becker opens for the IN campaign and makes an interesting point that ministers of the UK are not directly elected in the UK, does this make it undemocratic?

She goes on to talk that the EU legislators are backed by members voted for by the people of Europe.

Tina Becker: Britain has a pretty privileged position, not in the eurozone, but still maintaining a veto in the council.

She emphasises that the UK is part of the EU, not ruled by it.

John Mousley responds to Piana’s comments about the OUT campaigns leaflets saying: “We don’t make the leaflets; we’re just the footsoldiers.”

He goes on to say that out of the three central tenets of EU democracy, the U.K. holds little power. Have you noticed when the EU has ignored referendums in Holland and Ireland or that 55 out of 55 laws Britain has tried to veto have been shut down?

Piana points out that nationality and obsession over sovereignty has often been a bad thing, referencing her home country of Germany to a round of applause. 

She goes on to describe the EU commision as being in a civil servant role, a neutral position.

Mousley is continutally interrupting her. She responds saying that, “All interests of every member should be considered, sometimes so smaller members can get a good say, not just the big nations”

Mousley: If all British MEPs were to complain the Parliament, nothing would be done. Is that democracy? The people should have our fears and problems addressed by our elected representatives.

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:39 pm

The debate has now finished. Thank you for joining our coverage.

I would also like to thank my fellow livebloggers: Alex Rees and Nick Saunders.
Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:35 pm

A show of hands shows that one person who was undecided has now chosen a side of the debate.

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:34 pm

EU asylum policy applies to those fleeing harm, not just poor countries.

Alex Rees April 28, 20169:34 pm

Fact-checkers level some factual inaccuracies at the OUT debaters, mentioning a net migration fluctuation. “I could write a dissertation trying to find all the statistics during this debate.”

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:33 pm

The fact checker is now going to announce the facts. Stating that it has been difficult to prove right or wrong every single statistic due to contrasting facts provided by the different parties on different sides of the arguments.

Alex Rees April 28, 20169:31 pm

Poncet defends the “clear plan” of the IN campaign. The EU has enabled strong trade agreements, peace, and “we are working on our lapses in policy.”

“Every time the European Commission makes a proposal, European citizens are able to comment step of the way.”
Finally, Poncet stresses that EU decisions are clearly communicated. “Do your research, and you’ll see why the EU is beneficial for all of European nation.”
Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:27 pm

The OUT campaign is summarising their argument. “What we want to do is restore British sovereignty and dignity”

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:26 pm

That concludes the Q&A, which will be followed by both sides summaries and the fact checkers.

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:23 pm

Mousley: Actually I’m doing both. I think you’d be interested to know that the EU would encourage us to go for the cheapest steel, and Welsh steel is a little more expensive than the steel that Germany produce.

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:22 pm

Audience member: Are you using the EU as a scapegoat for the successive failures of governments?

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:21 pm

Clegg: Would you rather the debaters be people who know what they’re talking about or who are chosen by their race, gender, background etc.?

Ashdown: That is exactly what is done with the EU immigration policy.
Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:20 pm

Audience member: How representative of a Welsh university this is with the speakers who are present?

Alex Rees April 28, 20169:19 pm

Clegg reminds Ashdown that Iceland’s trade deals are made easier by its size, with it being only 10 times bigger by population.

Nick Saunders April 28, 20169:18 pm

Mousley comments that “I don’t think Japan will be willing to join such trade organisation with China” before being reprimanded somewhat by the Professor Ryszard Piotrowicz.”Well they have done for several years” which is met by large applause by the audience

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:16 pm

Audience member (Directed to OUT campaign): Are you aware of any country which appears to be willing to go it’s own, most countries try to join trade groups rather than leave them?

Alex Rees April 28, 20169:14 pm

The policy of the government according to Ashdown is that migrants will not “necessarily” be deported; but Piana takes issue with that word.

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:13 pm

Within 8 months of graduating, students from outside the UK must find a job and a sponsor for them to stay in the UK, replies Clegg. Why should we make it more difficult for them to stay by leaving?

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:13 pm

Audience member: What would you say to EU citizens who have been here for several years if we were to leave the EU?

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:11 pm

Audience member: What would you say to EU citizens who have been living in the UK for several years if the UK were to leave the EU?

Nick Saunders April 28, 20169:10 pm

The EU imposes legislation on the UK, sovereignty is more than control over armed forces and police foce

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:09 pm

Audience member: How is the UK in any way infringing on our sovereign rights? (Since we still have control over our armed forces and police etc)

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20169:09 pm

That concludes the debate part of the event. The floor is now open for Questions and Answers from the audience.

Alex Rees April 28, 20169:08 pm

Mousley accuses Piana of not believing local issues are important; “I did not say that,” Piana bluntly replies. The floor is now open for questions.

Nick Saunders April 28, 20169:08 pm

Becker: For a organisation so large as the EU, not every small local issue can be brought before a multi national parliament

Nick Saunders April 28, 20169:06 pm

The parliament represent he interests of the citizen, he EU commission represent he interests of the member states – Becker

Alex Rees April 28, 20169:06 pm

“The House of Lords is subservient to Parliament. The European Parliament relies on the European Commission to function.” Mousley reiterates his lack of belief in the democratic systems of EU.

Nick Saunders April 28, 20169:04 pm

Piana points that member states also have influence over the commission by their elected governments

Alex Rees April 28, 20169:03 pm

Mousley’s statements follow cheers from the audience at the mention of TTIP.

Alex Rees April 28, 20169:02 pm

100,000 people are needed for a petition to be recognised in UK Parliament, Mousley reminds Tina. Why is there nothing similar in the European Parliament?

Nick Saunders April 28, 20169:01 pm

<span style="font-size:14.666666666666666px;font-family:Arial;color:0000ff;background-color:transparent;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;”>Becker emphasises the influence of MEP’s over policy. The elected body is not helpless

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20168:47 pm

This will see John Mousley for the OUT campaign and Tina Piana for the IN campaign discussing Democracy and Institutions.

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20168:46 pm

We are now experiencing another five minute break before the third section of the debate, which precedes a Q&A session.

Nick Saunders April 28, 20168:43 pm

Professor Piotrowicz jokes that he thinks immigrants must “come for the weather”, as the outside looks fairly bleak. He also comments that he found it interesting that both sides focused on immigration when there are other social issues.

Alex Rees April 28, 20168:42 pm

“Have you ever left the UK?” Clegg asks Dalton. The systems in place allow us to know who enter and exit the UK, and financial institutions can plan accordingly. Why is it that European migrants are able to earn jobs, Clegg contends; is it a question of drive?

Nick Saunders April 28, 20168:41 pm

Dalton quotes a UK statistician
“We’re in the business of estimation, and will neither completely know”

Alex Rees April 28, 20168:40 pm

Doctors and economists will help plan for immigrants to the UK, responds Clegg. We will be able to help those in mainland Europe inside the EU; but the current climate of UK politics is not helped by the propagation of harmful stereotypes of European migrants by groups like Britian First. We know the specific numbers of people leaving and entering the UK every year; migrants or not.

Nick Saunders April 28, 20168:37 pm

Dalton commends the praise of diversity but claims it’s too much and irrelevant to the argument, citing a study that said that the fear towards immigration is linked to the opportunities available. Opportunities are shrinking in Britain, and immigration threatens to worsen that.

He continues that neither can we know how many people will migrate to the UK, so the capacity of healthcare and social care cannot be prepared. Whilst not everyone possible will migrate, the sheer variation in scale makes it impossible to plan

Alex Rees April 28, 20168:33 pm
The British ideals, insists Clegg, are valued around the world.
Maisie OBrien April 28, 20168:21 pm

The next debate is set to begin, focused on social issues, Harley Dalton (OUT) against James Clegg (IN).

Nick Saunders April 28, 20168:18 pm

Ashdown has had a pretty fierce rhetoric, if occasionally fact checked by Francois who’s held his ground on the economic benefits of IN and uncertainties of OUT

Alex Rees April 28, 20168:12 pm

Piotrowicz closes the economy debate, and opens a five-minute break.

Nick Saunders April 28, 20168:12 pm

Francois has retorted that the UK annual spending is over 5 time the entire EU budget, cutting it off would not provide any quick fix to the budget

Alex Rees April 28, 20168:09 pm

Ashdown proving passionate on the economy so far. Aber’s Vapalicious, he claims, has been affected by unnecessary regulations under the EU.

In Norway, 6% of laws passed have been under their national sovereignty, with the rest passed under EU regulations.
Nick Saunders April 28, 20168:07 pm

Ashdown is claiming that every EU initiative could have been managed by the UK itself, and saved itself 10 billion pounds

Alex Rees April 28, 20168:05 pm

Within 10 years, food production thrived under the EU; stable growth is now possible in agriculture.

Maisie OBrien April 28, 20168:04 pm

Ashdown suggests that the EU is the antithesis of the free market, and then goes on to describe himself as neo-colonialist. Ashdown slips as he refers to “Africa” as a country, but immediately corrects his mistake. Emphasises that UK could support emerging economies better but EU is focused on self preservation


Maisie OBrien April 28, 20168:03 pm

IN campaign: Post EU trade will still be determined by trade agreements and politicians, Brexit won’t change that