An extended EU Referendum Jaw debate was held on Wednesday. A captivating and humorous barbershop rendition of “That’s What Friends Are For (The Vulture Song)”, courtesy of Giacomo Pozzuto, set the tone, and the debate was introduced by the evening’s Chair, Zeyno Yurddas (6.1). The motion was: “This house believes the UK should remain a member of the European Union”. For the proposition, Sir Andrew Cahn (OB and a former diplomat and civil servant) and Cameron Cross (6.2); for the opposition, Ian Brown (South East Chair of ‘Business for Britain’ and MD of Industrial Maintenance Services, Portsmouth), and George McMenemy (6.1).
A highly personal and moving opening speech from Sir Andrew was followed by a speech from Ian Brown outlining a positive case for leaving the EU rather than a negative case for remaining. Cameron (this, his swansong on the Bedales soap-box), presented a charged and affecting argument from the standpoint of education, which was well-pitched at his audience of peers. But a barnstorming, passionate and expert speech for Brexit from George undoubtedly stole the show. After questions from Juliet Shapiro (6.2) and Josh Mazas (6.1), summary speeches were given by Ian Brown and Sir Andrew after which Zeyno took a vote. A previous run of this motion last term had garnered almost-zero support for the opposition but, despite the motion being carried, George’s speech was rewarded with a substantial number of votes against and it was a major talking point in the hours that followed. By Alastair Harden, Teacher of Classics
In this debate, I was a member for the proposition. My partner, Sir Andrew Cahn, focussed on the history of the EU and EEC. To this end, he analysed what role Britain plays in the EU, considering how many countries Britain (via the EU) has aided in becoming fully-fledged democracies. Sir Andrew cited Bulgaria and Spain as examples. These are countries which were formally autocratic, demagogue-laden regimes which the EU has helped to reform. From there, drawing on his experience as chair of WWF, Sir Andrew looked at what the EU does for us, in terms of the environment, fishing rights and animal protection. Once the opposition had their say, I went on with a forward-looking message (after a few rebuttals), taking a stance on how the EU benefits Higher Education in all formats, and how the freedom of movement laws aid us. Regardless of the outcome, I believe that both sides can agree that it was a high-calibre, equanimous debate, in which respect was tantamount: something which we feel is lacking in the modern day agenda. By Cameron Cross, 6.2