Last week, The Spectator held a debate on Brexit at the 2,200 seat London Palladium.
The event was sold out.
The evening included perspectives from both Leave and Remain supporters as well as questions from the audience.
At the end, although a significant portion of the audience was still undecided, Leave won the day.
A summary of soundbites follows, emphases mine. There is much more at the aforementioned link, including audio and responses to questions from the audience.
Arguing for Remain were Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat, former Deputy Prime Minister), Liz Kendall (Labour MP) and Chuka Umunna (Labour MP).
Chuka Umunna said:
The EU isn’t perfect, I don’t think any of the three of us are saying that. But the question on 23 June is whether we are safer and stronger and better off in than out, and I think we are. The bedroom tax, NHS, robbing tax credits from the working poor: whatever you think about these things, they have all been implemented by a Tory-led government. They have nothing to do with the EU. Nor do most things that you hear discussed on the news every day …
… being connected makes sense to the young because that’s what we’re used to. We’re not at war with these guys any more. We live in a complex world and we can either adopt a small vision of Britain, where we fail to live up to our history. Or we can give the next generation a proud ambitious and self confident nation. So I say: let’s go big, let’s make Britain even greater than it is already and reject the small vision for our country offered up by the people who want us to leave. Let’s stand tall.
Pretty weak and typically Labour: it’s all the fault of Tories. But let’s maintain the EU status quo because we’re used to it? That has to be the worst reason ever.
Never mind the added pressure on our infrastructure — especially housing, schools, hospitals, utilities — from the continuing influx of Europeans from newer member countries who want to come here because they all speak English and can earn more here than they can at home.
Nick Clegg said:
This is a once in a generation vote, if we decide to close the door in the face of Europe, lock the door, throw the key away, we’re not only denying opportunities for us now but we’re also closing the door for future generations – my kids, your kids, for all of our grandchildren. We must not just think about ourselves, we must also think about the duty we have to future generations. Because they are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of the decision taken by this generation more than anywhere here today. I believe, however flawed the European Union and of course it is, the future generations of this country will be safe, will be better off, will be stronger by remaining in the European Union.
Clegg is half-Dutch (mother) and part-Russian (father is half-Russian). He is married to a Spaniard. He says he is proud to be British, but not everyone is convinced. The Lib Dems were routed in the 2015 general election.
Liz Kendall said:
I think President Obama was absolutely right. Being a member of the EU gives Britain more influence and power, not less.
Cutting ourselves off from our neighbours and allies in Europe would diminish Britain’s power not increase it. And it would give us less control to shape our future, not more. In the end, this referendum will come down to the central question of our economy. There is not a single, serious, credible independent organisation that thinks we would be better off out.
Obama said that TTIP would be our reward for staying in Europe! No! I have a post on TTIP coming soon which will explain why it is so bad.
Arguing for Leave were Daniel Hannan (Conservative MEP), Nigel Farage (UKIP MEP and party leader) and Kate Hoey (Labour MP).
Daniel Hannan said:
… as long as we’re in the European Union, we cannot sign independent trade deals with non-EU countries.
The EU deal with Australia is being held up because some Italian tomato-growers are challenging it. The EU deal with Canada is being held up due to an unrelated dispute about Romanian visas. How have we put ourselves in a position where we can’t do those deals? Liz Kendall quotes some Davos men telling us that we can’t leave because we’d be worse off – but wages would rise, prices would fall. If we stay in, neither will happen.
I did not know that. Interesting.
Davos guys want us to stay in. Consider the source and make up your own mind.
Kate Hoey said:
Our basic right is our right to make laws. I don’t believe you can trust people in power if they can’t be removed by elections. No one can deny that the EU’s government, the Commission, is unelected and cannot be removed by any of us through elections. That fact alone is enough to reject the EU. It’s not socialist or democratic – the EU is anti-democratic. Its princip[le]s are those of a free market, but not of a political system. The EU’s purpose is to rule in the smooth running of a corporatist economy.
At least when I oppose Tory policies, I can vote on them. We can’t do this with the EU. The EU is an attempt to replace the democratic power of the people with a permanent administration in the interests of big business. Everything else is a smokescreen. It’s very clear why Obama was threatening us. The EU can never be reformed. What does Leave look like? It looks like all the other 169 countries in the world, most of them with true democratic accountability. Let us be clear, there is no certainty in remaining in the EU. We need to set our country free from future servitude.
I completely agree — and often wish Kate Hoey were a Conservative. She is a sensible, persuasive speaker and an excellent MP. I’ve never read anything bad about her.
Nigel Farage said:
The Remain side – or the ‘Remainians’, as I think they are now known – have clubbed together. They’ve got Goldman Sachs, they’ve got Siemens, they’ve got the IMF, they’ve got Obama, telling us if we don’t remain a part of the European Union, dreadful things will happen to us. They are putting the leave camp on the backfoot to try and put us off the main arguments in this referendum. The fact is, we don’t have a good deal. Do not believe them when they say that we can’t access the single market. Even in the worst case scenario where Britain has to rely on WTO rules, the cost of tariffs would be less than our next contribution. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote to take back the independence and control of this country’s laws, this country’s courts and this country’s borders.
I believe in democracy. When a European law is made, there is nothing we can do to reverse it. There is no direct democratic accountability in this system.
All of that is so true!
For my fellow Britons who are still undecided: look at the people and institutions who support either side.
In the Remain camp — in addition to The Spectator‘s pro-EU speakers and those Farage mentioned — are The Financial Times and The Economist, both of which promote globalism. Do you think they care about the average citizen? Do you think they care about you and your family?
The scare stories from Remain and the polls from their agenda-driven pollsters are frippery. Remember how accurate the polls were in predicting the 2016 general election result?
There is plenty of time to pause and reflect before June 23. Think carefully.