Manchester Metropolitan University hosts EU debate ahead of next week’s EU parliamentary election

  • Candidates for the main parties debated for upcoming election
  • Obviously what to do about Brexit was the key issue
  • Labour and Tory candidates wanted to remain despite their respective parties' stances on the issue

Manchester Metropolitan University hosted an EU debate ahead of next week’s EU parliamentary election.

The debate, hosted by Manchester for Europe, was attended by representatives from the main political parties. UKIP representative Michael James Felse was unable to attend.

The panel consisted of Chris Davis (Lib Dems), Gina Dowding (Greens), Gary Harvey (Brexit Party), Sajjad Karim (Conservative), Dan Price (Change UK), and Julie Ward (Labour).

The evening was moderated by Professor Dimitris Papadimitriou and Doctor Paul Tobin of the University of Manchester, and Doctor Kathryn Simpson of Manchester Metropolitan University.

EU election debate
Candidates for all the major parties were at the debate

Mr Papadimitriou said, “This is a good day for democracy and a good day for debate. We have a very diverse set of opinions here tonight.” 

Mr Harvey was the only candidate who wished to leave the EU, whilst the other candidates, despite their party’s stance wished to remain in the EU.

Each candidate was asked what their European identity meant to them, and what issues within the EU required reform.

The audience were then given the chance to pose questions to the panel, or at individual candidates.

Questions ranged from details of their manifestos, or lack of manifestos, the people’s vote, Northern Ireland and threat of the far-right.

Each candidate expressed their views, and declared their feelings on Brexit, democracy and the EU. Each representative spoke passionately of their European identity and referenced their own personal experiences in their answers.

Chris Davis stated, “I want to stop any sort of Brexit.”

Dan Price insisted, “Britain will not survive Brexit.”

Sajjad Karim said, “The referendum was an opinion poll that became politicised.”

Gina Dowding stated, “The Green Party is remain through and through.” 

EU election debate
A packed hall posed questions to candidates on a variety of issues

A linking argument between the majority of the candidates was the ‘People’s Vote’, insisting that it was the only to ensure democracy remained intact.

Mr Karim stated, “If the gridlock cannot be settled, alternative solutions must be taken.

“The referendum was nothing but a huge opinion poll, in legal terms, politically it has become something else.

“We accept the referendum result, as flawed as it was.”

Julie Ward insisted that the referendum had been subject to foreign interference, stating “I believe we need an inquiry into the referendum.

“Our democracy has been hijacked by dark forces.” 

Gary Harvey, when asked how Brexit should be handled, he stated, “When we are in power, we will deal with Brexit.

“If I was negotiating a deal, this is what the electorate voted for. I would put down 10 bullet points of what was important to the British people, and I can tell you know the EU would have said ‘no chance’.”

“We voted to leave the EU, and we are not doing it. Parliament needs to get itself in gear.”

After the third and final round of audience Q&A the debate was brought to an end 30 minutes earlier than expected.

The panellist took a photograph together and spoke with audience members individually after the debate was finished.