The European Union, in or out? The South decides

Southampton Solent debates what the EU Referendum means for the South

Southampton Solent University has brought together students, residents, politicians and members of the local business community to debate what the EU Referendum means for the South. 

Around 130 people attended the event – The European Union: In or out? The South decides – which was held in partnership with Business South and Solent Students’ Union on 17 May 2016 at Southampton City Art Gallery.

Exploring what the referendum means for people in the South, speakers from politics, education and law examined the issues for the local area and the case for and against an EU exit. 

ABOVE L-R: Graham Baldwin, Amanda Brockwell, Naomi Oiku, Vivienne Stern and Seán Woodward

Interactive audience voting polls taken throughout the debate by broadcaster, journalist and chair for the event Charles Rhodes showed the number of people that didn’t know which way to vote reduced by 15%, from 21% at the start of the debate to just 6% at the end of the debate.

The audience vote to remain in the EU increased from 51% to 73% and the vote to leave decreased from 22% to 20%, with those choosing ‘not going to vote’ changing from 6% to 1%.

Speaking at the event, Solent University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin, said: “The outcome of June’s referendum will have profound implications both regionally and nationally. Here at Solent we’re committed to encouraging debate and judging by the results in tonight’s polls, this event has helped people make up their minds and importantly, remember to vote, whichever way they decide.”

Chief Executive of Business South, Sally Thompson, said: “One of the highlights of this evening is that we’ve brought the business community together with education and the community and enabled people to hear the arguments and discuss the issues from a range of perspectives.”

As well as Professor Graham Baldwin, fellow panel members included higher education and policy expert Vivienne Stern, lawyer Amanda Brockwell from Coffin Mew, Hampshire Councillor Seán Woodward and Solent Students’ Union President Naomi Oiku. There were also presentations from Dr Daniel Reed, lecturer in law at Solent, and Dave Gosling, partner at Menzies LLP.

Sovereignty, the economy, education and migration were some of the topics discussed, with the economy and impact on business, education, skills and opportunity and sovereignty the top three issues that concerned the audience most at the start of the debate. By the end of the debate, the economy and impact on business, and education, skills and opportunity remained the top two concerns, the top third changed to migration.

The audience also voted on whether they thought leaving the European Union would give Britain more or less control over its own affairs, if a vote to leave the EU might restrict their ability to work to travel in the EU, and whether leaving the EU would personally affect them.


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