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Today’s debate over the pros and cons of Brexit was between Diane James, UKIP MEP, versus ex-Labour MP, Denis MacShane.
MacShane did not take the Tory angle of Project Fear, but rather implied that Brexiteers were little Englanders and nasty racists, while making it clear he had a book to sell on the subject.
Diane James debunked the myth that Britain has a great influence in the EU. She confirmed that if all UK MEPs agreed and voted together on one issue they would still amount to less than 10% of the overall vote. Time and time again Britain’s voice is lost against the cries of the other twenty-seven member states. Diane reminded the audience that this situation would only worsen as the EU project expands towards the Middle East with membership of Turkey and other nations.
There was a theme of continuing European peace throughout the debate as if the EU was responsible for preventing a European civil war. Unfortunately no-one from Bosnia or Ukraine was there to comment, nor anyone from Greece
MacShane’s main arguments were that we receive so many subsidies, both in the farming and educational sector, and that these would disappear without EU membership. Diane James continuously reminded him that the funding is actually generated by British tax-payers and is simply reallocated back to us via Eurocrats, i.e. it is our money in the first place.
MacShane thought that the possibility of the removal of retirement to Spain was an important argument for remaining within the EU. This seemed to override the more important issues like the erosion of British sovereignty, loss of national identity and membership of an undemocratic bureaucracy.
After the debate a straw poll among the audience revealed there was a 50:50 split of opinion on Brexit.
You can catch Diane James MEP talking at another public debate over the EU in Arundel on the 22nd April 2016
The event raised over £325 for the charity BRINOS – Britain Nepal Otology Service
More information on the Chichester Speakers Festival