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Reigate Liberal Democrats

Crispin Blunt v Reigate College Students

November 23, 2018 4:38 PM
By David Ross
Crispin Blunt at Reigate College

Reigate College held an event recently titled "Will Brexit be a disaster for young people". MP for Reigate, Crispin Blunt, was invited to defend his support of a hard Brexit to an audience of students and the general public. The evening started with a short talk from Mr Blunt followed by questions from the audience.

While we applaud Crispins willingness to come and speak, we feel it necessary to correct most of the claims he made, and challenge the narratives he was trying to promote.

As pointed out by one of the Reigate College students, Crispin's talk was filled with vague meanderings. He explained (in slightly more fluffy language) that British people didn't like the EU as much because the Germans didn't invade us. He went on to speak about how we need to leave the EU to become a more global Britain. At one point he even claimed that on 29th March, we will have all the aces (a claim the generated some laughter from the audience). We were also told that poor people were struggling, not because of ongoing austerity, but because foreign people were taking all the jobs.

Questions from the audience were far more thought out (and heated at times). He was chastised repeatedly for his apparent ignorance about global trade and basic economics.

Like many Brexiteers, he leaned heavily on Donald Trumps narrative that the EU is a protectionist state, a claim which is just not true. He also failed to understand that our current economic strength relies on our unique position as an access point into the EU and close ally of the USA. He even argued that the vibrant modern economy we have developed since joining the EU somehow isn't a good fit for Europe (he failed to explain why).

While not for lack of effort, Crispin's arguments failed to hold water. The dissatisfaction in the audience was palpable. All the arguments for leaving the EU just don't hold up well in the cold hard light of reality. Like everyone else, Brexiteers thought they would lose the referendum. Pro Brexit MPs never thought anyone would have to deliver on the many promises they made while campaigning. The champions of Brexit are now scrambling to avoid responsibility while defending their pre-referendum views, and this showed in Crispin's talk. Crispin was keen to tell us how he could negotiate a much better deal, but alas, he is not in a position to do so.

The simple facts are that distancing ourselves from the countries we trade with the most will not benefit our economy. We will not become a more global country by abandoning our valued position as an access point into the EU. We will not be better off having fewer people coming to the UK to work and pay taxes. And while the UK may not have been invaded in WW2, our DNA is very much European!

The limits of time meant there were plenty of questions that were left unanswered. Here are some that we would like to have asked:

  • By supporting Brexit, Jacob Rees Mogg, Liam Fox, Micheal Gove and many others have had a significant boost to their career prospects. How has supporting Brexit impacted Crispin's political future?
  • Many prominent Brexit voting areas are also places that traditionally feel ignored by London. How did our EU membership prevent our government from doing anything to solve this issue?
  • Many young people see humanities future prosperity coming from closer co-operation between nations and see Brexit as a step in the wrong direction. How does Crispin feel a more divided Europe will impact the future of humankind?
  • In recent years, Putin's Russia has shown itself to be a severe threat to western stability. What impact will Brexit have on Russia?
  • Much of our environmental protection legislation in recent years has come from the EU. Can you guarantee us that environmental protection will still be a priority post Brexit?
  • According to the register of Members' interests, Crispin receives considerable amounts of money for consulting work regarding UK exports to middle eastern markets. Does Crispin stand to gain financially from a no-deal Brexit?

Crispin came to the event with the patronising intention of "opening a few minds" about Brexit, but if anyone was opening minds it was the students. Unfortunately, the challenging questions and rational arguments had no effect. Crispin's mind remained firmly closed. He wants a reckless hard Brexit and doesn't appear to care what it costs his constituents.

It was a great event, and all credit goes to Reigate College for putting it on. The most impressive part of the evening was the quality of the questions from students. While we may have lost faith in the old guard of Crispin Blunt's era, rest assured that there are some very bright young people coming to take his place.