EU referendum debate held at NewVIc

EU debate panel Kier Sharp, Andrew Rosindell MP, chair Peter Jewett, Baroness Sarah Ludford and Step

EU debate panel Kier Sharp, Andrew Rosindell MP, chair Peter Jewett, Baroness Sarah Ludford and Stephen Timms MP - Credit: Archant

Students in Newham will have never known a time when Britain was not part of the European Union.

But it’s a prospect facing them – and the rest of the country – should the referendum on the nation’s membership result in the consensus to leave.

Ahead of the poll, set to take place on Thursday, June 23, NewVIc held a debate to raise awareness of the key issues and provide students and staff with the opportunity to hear from figures on both sides of the argument.

The pro-EU side was represented by East Ham’s Labour MP, Stephen Timms, and Liberal Democrat peer and former MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford.

Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell, spoke on behalf of the leave campaign, while a last-minute cancellation resulted in 16-year-old student and aspiring politician Kier Sharp filling the fourth chair.

Among the issues debated were trade deals, human rights and the role of Europe in solving the refugee crisis.

Mr Rosindell said: “If we leave the EU, the UK will be free to sign trade agreements with countries in the Commonwealth and trade without restrictions.”

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But Mr Timms said that plans by Chinese developers ABP to provide 30,000 jobs at the Royal Docks could be at risk if Britain leaves the EU.

He said: “The Chinese speak English much more readily than any other European language.

“They’re coming here to trade within the EU but if we leave the EU, some of those 30,000 jobs will go elsewhere.”

The biggest cheer of the afternoon was reserved for the member of the panel with the least political experience.

Speaking about refugees, Kier said: “People aren’t leaving Syria because [German chancellor] Angela Merkel said let’s have a party.

“People are leaving because their lives are in danger.

“They’re not leaving because they want to come here to work, although there are people who do, they’re being attacked in their houses and they can’t live there any more.”