sides of EU referendum debate clash at Highbridge meeting
three quarters of the audience at an EU referendum election hustings
event in Highbridge last night (Thursday, June 9th) said they
will be voting to leave the EU.
James Heappey, who has not yet announced his voting intentions,
led the debate in Highbridge Community Hall.
audience of over 100 people heard arguments to stay in Europe
from Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter, and from Tim Hegarty,
a Vote Leave campaigner and businessman.
Bradshaw said the UK's trade has grown significantly since it
joined the EU while Mr Hegarty argued that the EU is "evil
of the key local issues debated was Burnham's 'poor' sea water,
as defined by the EU's new regulations, which Mr Heappey noted
have caused "considerable angst" in the town.
member Gaynor Brown said Burnham-On-Sea had lost its Stert Island
Swim due to the EU regulations even though the water quality has
not actually worsened.
Bradshaw said he is "very sorry to hear that" but added
that he's pleased that the EU has forced the UK to raise environmental
standards and introduce improved sewage systems.
Hegarty said: "We are British, we need to stand up
for ourselves. We don't need the EU to tell us how to run our
audience member, Janet Keen, said she is voting leave due to concerns
about the "frightening levels of endemic corruption"
in the EU. Mr Bradshaw said that corruption levels are "very,
very low" and that countries can't join unless they tackle
corruption, but Mr Hegarty said "corruption is everywhere."
immigration, Mr Bradshaw said that overseas workers provide the
UK with many "essential workers, particularly in the care
industry." Mr Hegarty said those in favour are merely keen
to get cheap workers - "it's all about the money," he
said. Mr Bradshaw argued that "leaving the EU will not solve
Hegarty said that people who say the country will miss out on
trade if we leave the EU "cannot be trusted" and he
claimed it would be so easy for the UK to negotiate trade deals.
However, Mr Bradshaw claimed that Barack Obama was right and we
would be "at the back of the queue" in terms of trade.
Tony Lynham aired concerns about the levels of money being spent
on the EU - a point agreed by Mr Hegarty who said that UK tax
payers had given over £2m to the EU since the start of the
the economy, concerns about right wing extremism, sovereignty,
agriculture subsidies, open borders and tourism were also among
the topics covered.
Heappey told Burnham-On-Sea.com afterwards he will be announcing
after next week's debates how he will be voting. "I made
up my mind a while ago and I'm not sitting on the fence, but I
feel it's my responsibility to hear the debates and comments from
constituents before saying how I will vote," he said.
people are being urged to get out and vote in June 23rd. "This
is a very important vote that will shape the country for years
- it's so impotant that people use their vote," said the
show of hands at the meeting revealed the vast majority of those
present were in favour of leaving the EU.
Heappey is also holding two further hustings events at Wells Cathedral
at 7.30pm today (Friday 10th June), and Kings of Wessex School
in Cheddar at 7.30pm on Thursday 16th June.
spoke to some of those who attended the Highbridge hustings about
how they will be voting in the EU Referendum...
Ryder - Leave
"I don't want to be in a United States of Europe -
we want our own identity and to be made to make our own
Evans - Stay
"I think leaving the EU would be a risky leap into
the dark. I don't think immigration is as big an issue as
it's made out to be."
Solomon - Undecided
"There is such a difference between the facts and the
emotions of those who shout the loudest. I am undecided
at the moment."
Easton - Leave
"I have been following a lot of the arguments and just
don't believe in the stay debate. I think that Turkey will
quickly become an EU member."