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.