This blog post was prompted by a great recent debate at the Victoria and Albert Museum organised by Farrer & Co, as the Laurence Stracey memorial.
The motion was: "British Workers have the most to lose from a Brexit"
Speakers for, were the Right Hon Clare Short and Daniel Stiliz QC and against, were John Baron MP and Jane Mulcahy QC. The judge/chair was Jeremy Posnansky QC.
Clare Short in favour of the motion, was the Secretary of State for International Development under Tony Blair's Government and John Baron is a Tory MP in the current parliament who is keen for the UK to leave the EU.
The V&A museum has a fine modern theatre in which the debate took place on Wednesday night and is a beautiful place in which the 200 or so in attendance could enjoy drinks and discussion afterwards. The very friendly and efficient V&A staff worked on until after 11pm.
Before the debate commenced the audience was asked by a show of hands to signify whether they were for or against remaining part of the EU and voted about 17/3 to remain in (I was in the minority). To keep the parties on their toes and to add some fun, the debate rules provided that each side could play one joker while the other side was speaking, upon which the person then talking had to argue for one minute in favour of the other side's point of view.
The debate was extremely interesting and the two sides played and answered their jokers brilliantly. Clare Short like many said she dislikes the term "Brexit" but I was particularly pleased that she referred to what many of her generation including yours truly, still call "The Common Market". She said that the issues were serious and took us through some of the interesting history: The original formation of the Common Market with 6 member states; the early refusals to admit the UK; the cross overs by the UK political parties with Labour and the Trade Unions originally being against joining and the Conservatives being keen compared with now when most Labour politicians and Trade Unions are keen to remain members with UKIP and some Tories being keen to quit; she mentioned the very first UK referendum (1975) in which she (and for that matter I) took part, about whether to remain in the Common Market and then on to the present day in Europe. A very elequent and persuasive speaker.
John Baron who had crutches, following a recent operation, turned out to be a brilliant and entertaining orator even using the joker played against him to great advantage. The QCs on both sides also joined the fray with both wit and knowledge.
A secret ballot was held and when the result was declared at about 10pm those who wished to remain in the EU were still successful but the actual scores very close - about 97 in favour and 93 against - when compared with the initial show of hands mentioned above, illustrated the quality of the speakers.
Drinks and much discussion afterwards with friends closed an excellent evening.
Reflecting later on the recent German decision unilaterally to welcome vast numbers of migrants to the EU without first discussing this with EU partners and then penalising those who do not accept that unilateral dictat, I am as keen as ever to leave the EU.