Bradford College played host to a Brexit Question Time event that gave students the chance to quiz local and national political figures on the hot topic.
The panel was made up of Labour MP Naz Shah, who represents the Bradford West constituency, which includes the college, Councillor Simon Cooke, the Conservative Group Leader on Bradford Council, Femi Oluwole, co-founder of Our Future Our Choice, the movement for a People’s Vote and Umit Yildiz, a lecturer and PhD researcher at Edge Hill University and former Citizenship tutor at Bradford College.
Chairing the discussion was Piers Telemacque, former National Union of Students Vice President for Society and Citizenship who works at Bradford College on the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) which aims to promote social mobility by encouraging access to higher education for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
After the panellists had each outlined how they voted in the 2016 referendum, and why, they took questions from the audience of students and staff that packed the Michele Sutton Lecture Theatre in the David Hockney Building for the lively event.
Naz Shah explained that she had campaigned for Remain but insisted she respects and will honour the outcome of the voted.
Simon Cooke said that, as a long-standing Eurosceptic, he voted Leave as he considered the European Union to be “distant, unaccountable and fundamentally undemocratic” and that it had grown from a trading arrangement, which he had initially supported, into a project aimed at creating a “European superstate”.
Umit Yildiz explained his desire to leave the EU was motivated from a left-wing perspective and that he viewed the EU as a “neo-liberal project” that is a “club for the rich, not the people”.
Femi Oluwole explained his frustration at the lack of accurate information available to voters ahead of the 2016 vote and why he felt a People’s Vote was essential.
Among the topics that came up for discussion was the economic impacts of leaving the European Union, the role of global influences in the referendum, the motivation of voters and the way forward from the current impasse.
A packed house was treated to stimulating and thought-provoking discussion with a range of views expressed from an audience sharing fears, hopes and ideas about the future of Britain in a post-Brexit world.