EU: In or Out? With Lord Liddle and Nikki Sinclaire
PolSoc were very pleased to welcome such a great turn out to our final event of Epiphany term, which was a debate on Britain’s place in the EU.
We heard from two esteemed speakers: Lord Liddle, Labour member of Lords, former special Advisor of European affairs to Tony Blair and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso. He is also currently chairman of the international think tank Policy Network.
Nikki Sinclaire is founder of the ‘We Demand a Referendum’ Party (offshoot of a campaign) in 2012, MEP of the West Midlands 2012-2014. She is a former UKIP representative, now an independent.
Lord Liddle gave us his views first: He asserted that a debate was required as to whether Britain stays in the EU. There is an unhelpful degree of exaggeration from both sides of the debate, and this needs straightening out. He pointed out that the economically, Britain’s prospects would be reduced if we left the EU. Europe needs strength against Asian investors, and if independent, Britain would have issues attracting global investors to ensure this strength. Notably, Britain is valuable to the US in its place in the EU.
Lord Liddle placed much emphasis on the importance of sovereignty. Global issues such as climate change can be better tackled in a group, and Britain has a better chance of having an impact in global affairs when part of the EU. Britain has always been an integral part of European and Global affairs – throughout history we have always had a say, or an impact, in foreign affairs. We need strength to maintain this ability. Lord Liddle admitted that a strong argument to leave the EU is centred on immigration problems. He agreed that these need to be addressed. However, he finished his speech with the uplifting image of young European citizens from all countries appreciating our monuments and culture together, to emphasise the idea of unity in Europe.
Nikki Sinclaire then presented her views on the topic. She began by asking us what we though the EU was, in order to show how its status and purpose have become confused and unclear. She pointed out that being part of the EU did not ensure security: Iceland, a non-EU member, is a happy, prosperous country, whereas Greece, an EU member, is suffering. She argued that each country in the union needs its own approach; there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Regarding trade, Ms Sinclaire argued that the EU was not necessary, and gave the example of Nissan’s ‘empty threats’ of cutting trade with Britain if we did not join the Euro. Britain does not need the EU for power: we are a permanent member of the Security Council, and the US needs us for convenience, not for our position in the EU. She strongly asserted the lack of democracy in the debate. MEPs do not have mandate of the British people to participate in meeting: Britain is merely a member in name. She argued that Britain needs to remain independent and govern our own country.
The floor was then open to questions.