Tuesday 29th November 2016 – The Big Brexit Debate: Parliament Street vs. Liberal Youth

debating-crowd2 On Tuesday 29th November 2016, Debating London hosted a debate between Parliament Street and Liberal Youth at the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall.

Patrick Sullivan represented Parliament Street and Freddie Fisher represented Liberal Youth. Both were joined by a representative of Debating London.

The issue being debated were:-

1) Should Parliament be given a vote on triggering Article 50?

Parliament Street CEO, Patrick Sullivan spoke against the motion.
2) Should MPs seek to ensure we prioritise Single Market access in Brexit negotiations?

Freddie Fisher, representing Liberal Youth spoke for the motion.

Instead of keynote speeches and a Q&A, the panellists were required to cross-examine each other and then hand over to the audience who were given a platform to make their own speeches from the stage.

The audience decided the debate ended in a draw!!!

Event Review by Sofia Geraghty

On December the 15th 2016, Parliament Street teamed up with the Debating London and Liberal Youth to hold a debate on Brexit. The first motion debated was whether “Parliament should get a vote on whether article 50 should be triggered”.

Representing Parliament Street, Patrick Sullivan argued that MPs should not get a vote on triggering article 50. He framed his argument under the following themes: political, social and economic. Politically, he noted the importance of MP’s to “uphold the will of the people” and adhere to the democratic process that had led to the referendum result. He stressed that it was important that the will of 17 million people was not scuppered by 600 and added that in many places over the UK, such as the midlands, the referendum had exposed that many MP’s were completely out of touch with the will of their constituents. In relation to the SNP’s he said that they were very much a single issue party and may not have the interests of the whole country at heart. He finished with a social point, noting that it was important that the current social riffs in society were not reinforced by ignoring the Brexit vote.

To counter, a representative from Debating London argued that MPs should get a vote on whether article 50 should be triggered. He argued that Theresa May was not an individual who had obtained “perfect knowledge” and that a prolonged parliamentary discussion would give her more of an opportunity to acquire that knowledge. He added that, prior to the referendum vote, a lot of businesses based in the UK had expressed concern around Brexit – and concluded that a parliamentary vote would allow businesses to gain a better deal. He stated that the Conservatives were likely to act in their own self-interests as opposed to acting to secure the best outcome for the country and finished by emphasising that extra debating time was vital if the best deal is to be secured.

The debate was then opened up to the floor for comments. One audience member noted that the ‘Leave’ side had ceased to give up campaigning after the 1975 referendum vote had been revealed, and hence the ‘Remain Camp’ should be allowed a voice. Another attendee highlighted that the EU is currently not in a good position and often did not respect the EU voting process until the EU leaders got the result that they wanted; he finished by stating that the UK need “courage and imagination” going forth. A couple of audience members noted that many people had voted for Brexit because they were discontented with the current political system, they considered that ignoring the will of the people could lead to further (and perhaps more radical) discontentment.

To finalise, a summary speaker, gave an overview of the argument. He noted that the key issue was trust: on the surface this meant whether you trusted the government to get on with the negotiations or whether you considered that they needed more guidance, however, at a deeper lever the trust was around the pre-Brexit debate. He said that many of those arguing for a parliamentary discussion argued that the pre-Brexit debate had not been sufficiently fair and transparent. He finished by stating that ‘veiled threats’ were not conducive to the debate; and that the potency for a radical/violent reaction to the decision should not be a force for consideration.
Following the summary speaker, the audience were invited to vote. It was a draw!

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