12 April 2016 20.00-21.15

Our big EU referendum debate takes place 12 April. It’s currently fully booked. Please register on the waiting list if you’d like to attend.

In June the people of Britain will be asked to vote on whether to remain in the EU or leave. This is one of the most important decisions facing the country, influencing social and economic life for decades to come. Liz Bilney (CEO of Leave EU) and Simon Boyd (Chairman of Business for Britain) argue that Britain should leave, and the case for Britain to remain in the EU is made by Ben Howlett (Conservative MP for Bath) and Chuka Umunna (Labour MP for Streatham).

We requested questions for the panel in advance. The following have been submitted so far. If you have additional questions please get in touch.

Business, trade and economics

Should economics and business issues dictate whether we stay in the EU?

The UK requires migration to keep our economy running, ie skilled people, doctors, engineers, nurses and so forth. Therefore I’m not bothered around the immigration argument, as we could implement a point system similar to Australia if we were to leave. I am asking what is planned for trade agreements if we leave the EU. Currently 47% of our trade is through the EU. In no way can you guarantee we would keep trading on this scale, therefore is it not in our benefit to remain in the EU on pure economic reasons?

If we left the EU, what are the potential (financial) impacts on trade with EU countries?

As a small business that exports products and services worldwide – we have received a lot of help from the UKTI which has been part Euro funded to help us with exports. In the event of Brexit what likelihood is there any UK government would make up the shortfall in Euro funding to help UK businesses export?

Please comment on whether you would support signing the TTIP trade agreement (both stay and go positions).

How long would a no-tariff open-access trade agreement with the single market take to negotiate? What would we do in the meantime?

If we leave the EU, will we be seeking a free trade deal or complete access to the single market?

There is often a lot of comment about British business being burdened by EU ‘red tape’. Give some examples of ‘red tape’ that will definitely be removable after a Brexit, how will this change Britain, and how much will this save per annum? Coming from a business background myself, I think there is a lot of obfuscation on this issue, and I’d like to press for answers.

Climate change

Climate change is one of the severest and most multi-faceted threats facing us in the future. What would Britain’s environmental policy look like in the event that we vote to leave – without EU targets and safeguards and with a government that has already cut many of our green subsidies?

Our legislation on environmental protection is closely linked to that in other European countries. What would happen to our environment if we leave the EU?

The EU has brought in the air quality targets that are forcing our coal plants to close; it is behind our 2020 efficiency targets, renewables targets, emissions target, biodiversity and interconnector targets. Given that the coalition government argued for a weakening of the 2030 targets – a ‘leaving to the markets’ – is it not true to say that our environment and energy policies are not safe in Tory hands? We need this extra layer of government to ensure safe, long-term management of our environment.

The EU has done great things to tackle huge environmental problems across nation states, taking a long-term approach to the problems we face. Do we need to stay in the EU to ensure we continue to make these changes and the environment doesn’t become another political football to kick around every 5 years?

What impact do you think leaving the EU will have on the environment?

What impacts do you think there would be for the habitats directive?

What will leaving the EU do for cities’ involvement in green capitals?

Britain’s relationship with Europe

Would Europe be better off without Britain?/ What’s so attractive about Britain from the continent?

What relationship does the UK envisage with Europe if we leave the EU?

What do you think the place of the UK is in the EU if, as seems likely, it moves towards full fiscal and political union?

A lot of this referendum is about the short term. What do you think the longer term UK/EU relationship will be if we leave or remain?

What does the ideal European Union for Britain look like and how can it be achieved?

Why do you think there is such a negative attitude towards the EU in the UK, if the politicians who have been elected and sent by the British people have had all the power to amend EU resolutions and bring in new ideas? Why is it not mandatory in the UK to indicate which civil redevelopment projects (building of schools, roads, buildings, infrastructure (re)developments) actually happen only because the EU provides the money to do so?

Please give a concrete example of one law that has been imposed on the UK by the EU which has had a seriously detrimental effect on the UK. I have yet to hear of any concrete examples.

If we remain in the EU, how can we make it more democratic, responsive, understandable and transparent to citizens?

The EU, Scotland, Wales and Ireland

Does Brexit require Scotland to automatically have a referendum for staying within the UK and within the EU?

There are a lot of similar reasons for why Scotland should remain in the UK and the UK should remain in the EU. But the arguments seem entirely opposite for no obvious reason. Why?

If the vote was to leave how would the regions of the UK that depend on significant EU subsidies be protected (Wales, Scotland, Devon, Cornwall)?

How does the panel believe a leave vote in the referendum will affect Irish citizens living and working in the UK?

Health and education

How do you think a departure from the EU will affect university student mobility? Don’t we potentially put our students at a disadvantage if it’s more difficult for them to move freely to study within Europe (eg Erasmus)?

If we vote to remain in the EU, what future risk, if any, do the panellists think is posed to the provision of health and educational services in the UK by the potential for them to be accessed by those migrating here from other EU countries?

What are the benefits of staying in the EU for education and skills?

Younger voters

How will we get young people (under 40) to vote in this election when they’re so disengaged with politics and institutions?

What is your stance on votes for 16 year olds at the EU referendum?

There is a big generation divide with respect to this issue, with younger Britons predominantly wanting to stay in the EU. Given that it is they who will be living with the consequences of the referendum, should their preferences not receive greater weight in the decision?


Would the right to remain be conferred to in-work European residents after a decision to leave, and if not, would the panel be prepared to quantify the social and economic cost of this decision?

The EU currently provides important protection for employment rights and the environment. Would you agree with this, and if you support leaving the EU, would you want this protection to continue?

How important is the EU in safeguarding employment and social rights?

Who / when can activate the emergency break agreed with Europe and does its activation need the majority or any agreement from the other member states?

Do we have full power to implement the emergency break or do we have to get approval first from Europe?

Migration and freedom of movement

What impact do you think leaving the EU will have on our freedom of movement across Europe?

What will happen to EU migrants currently in the UK if we leave?

How would a successful Brexit campaign affect migrants to the UK from non-EU states?

How would the Brexit affect Europeans living in the UK?

If we leave the European Union where will we house the one million Britons living in Spain who are only there because of freedom of movement within the EU?

With the influx of immigration continuing at such a high level with no realistic way of reducing it, is this not putting too high a load on our already stretched services and also adding to the high level of demand for housing, both of which surely cannot continue at such a rate?

What will become of the many EU citizens that currently live in Great Britain?

How is it that an EU dedicated to having open borders is now busy closing them? Surely this is contradictory?

The EU and Bristol

What impact will a UK exit from the EU have on businesses in Bristol and the West, and also those organisations trading in Europe, both in the short term and the long term?

In your opinion what are the best and worst decisions for Bristol coming out of the EU in the last ten years? What decisions could be made in the EU (should we remain in) that would improve life in Bristol?

What difference would leaving the EU make to Bristol specifically?

The EU and Human rights

What would the impact of leaving the EU be on the human rights of people in Britain?

If Britain decided to leave: How would this affect UK laws on equality, eg Disability and the European Convention of Human Rights.

The debate surrounding the referendum

Why has scaremongering by both Brexit and Remain campaign become the hallmark of this referendum campaign? The people of the UK need honest, straight information to make up their minds.

Is this not just a false debate? After all, it is impossible to know what Brexit looks like, won’t it simply be like most divorces long, drawn out and messy?

Why is there so much scaremongering regarding the in / out referendum and no real issues being debated?

Is this referendum more about the interests of Conservative party unity than in the best interests of the country?

Why is there not more debate about the positives of staying in Europe?

Is Brexit a London issue or a national issue?

How come the in campaign mainly focuses around the risks of leaving instead of the benefits EU membership has brought people?

The EU, war and peace

We’ve heard lots about the EU not stopping European wars. That it’s NATO that has actually kept the peace. Does anyone on the panel genuinely believe that the commercial, cultural and community ties created by the EU has absolutely no subtle, NATO-reinforcing peace keeping role in Europe – and that to leave would represent at least some level of risk where peace is concerned?

Through our membership in the EU, the UK has an influential and important role in ending global poverty and is able to work with other EU nations to have a significant impact in global discussions on peace, development and climate. How would leaving the EU impact on this and on our aid programme partnerships with developing countries and regions?

Why is the issue of ‘peace in Europe’ so often seen as a marginal side effect (of an economic integration)? Should it not rather be a key point in every debate on the EU?

Other/ general questions

What are the advantages to leaving the EU?

What are the downsides to staying in the EU?

Where is the future of Britain if it is not in the EU?

In the panel’s view, what is the greatest cost to leaving the EU?

Simply state in one sentence the key benefit of Leave or Remain.

What can be our biggest achievement by leaving the EU which could not be done if we remained in?

What are the implications of the population of the UK reaching 70 million within around 11 years (National Office for Statistics projection)? Should this be a factor we should consider when voting?

Will there be another EU referendum?

What precedents are there for countries leaving the EU and did they achieve the benefits that they believed they would get?

What does sovereignty mean to you in 2016?

Can our own government be trusted, and if not, is the EU the safeguard we need? 2. Is it wrong that a governing party would not be allowed to implement manifesto commitments such as renationalising the railway network or cutting the level of immigration due to EU rules? 3. What is the most convincing argument put forward by your opponents? 4. Does the EU promote socialism, as per Margaret Thatcher, or does it, as the Left including Jeremy Corbyn say, promote neoliberalism?

Can the panel give an example of when they or one of their constituents have been negatively or positively affected by the UK being a member of the EU?

Do the members of the panel believe that there has been significant progress with the reforms to the EEC/EU that were promised during the 1975 referendum campaign?

How can anything work with two ‘Chiefs’? Two people can never be the boss of any organisation, it doesn’t work on any level, so why are we deluded to think it can work for countries in Europe? It’s fundamentally flawed.

If Britain does leave the EU how long could it be until they are allow to join again if people change their minds? Or is it once you are out you are out forever?

If the EU has such a great influence on the UK surely it would be better to remain within it and try for better positive reform than ‘blindly’ leap away or alternatively stay in but do nothing?

If we leave the EU will other countries be tempted to follow us?

In the aftermath of the Euro crisis and the GB referendum has the European expansion project finished?

Is there evidence to show whether the existence of the EU has influenced the level of equality within and between members states?

Other than Russia, who gains, whether economically or in terms of security, from a weakened Europe and a disunited Kingdom?

How would the UK’s tourism industry be affected by a Brexit?

How can the EU help us to manage increasing globalisation?