General election 2019: Students grill candidates at UEL hustings

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 November 2019

Candidates at the UEL hustings. Picture: Sophie Cox

Candidates at the UEL hustings. Picture: Sophie Cox

Sophie Cox

Brexit, mental health provision and trust in politicians were among the topics of discussion at the University of East London’s hustings event.

Three East Ham candidates - Conservative Scott Pattenden, Labour's Stephen Timms and Liberal Democrat Michael Fox - were joined by Green Party candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster, Zack Polanksi for the event at the University Square Stratford campus on Thursday, November 21.

After introducing themselves with two minute statements about themselves and the key issues for each party, the candidates took questions from students on a variety of topics.

As one of the defining issues surrounding next month's election, Brexit was high up on the agenda.

Mr Pattenden said: "I campaigned for Remain and I was upset that we lost. But I do believe in respecting a democratic process."

Mr Timms, on the other hand, reiterated his wish for a second referendum. Asked how Brexit would affect EU students' status, he said that people already here, including students "should be ok" post-Brexit.

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Mr Fox told the audience: "The best way to protect people from the EU is to stop Brexit."

Mr Pattenden urged students to register for settled status to retain their rights. "I don't want to see an end to migration," he said, adding he wants a "balanced approach".

On the issue of mental health care and funding, especially for young people, all four candidates were in agreement that more needed to be done.

"There's so much going on in the world that makes young people worried," Mr Polanski said.

Mr Fox, meanwhile, told how the issue was part of his party's manifesto, adding: "You don't go to hospital with a broken leg and they say you have to go to another hospital on the other side of the country in a few weeks."

There was some conversation about the lack of diversity on the panel - all white and male, although two candidates identified themselves as LGBT+.

Asked how the public would be able to trust politicians in future, Mr Polanski quipped: "I largely don't trust politicians either."

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