MP to attend debate on EU referendum

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge in Hadleigh ANL-150607-170405001

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge in Hadleigh ANL-150607-170405001

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The EU in/out question in South Suffolk is set for a political showdown with a live debate in the run up to the referendum.

On June 23, UK residents will have the chance to vote whether they want the country to stay in or leave the European Union.

In the lead up to this the Free Press is organising a live debate on the question of whether to vote in or out.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, who supports the ‘In’ campaign, has confirmed his attendance.

Joining him in the live debate will be Sue Carpendale, a Liberal Democrat and Babergh District Councillor who is also backing the campaign to remain in the EU.

The panel will also include Luke Cresswell, chairman of the South Suffolk Labour Party and a supporter of the UK leaving the EU, and Steven Whalley, chairman of UKIP South Suffolk, who is also backing the campaign to leave.

A representative of the Green Party will also take part.

Mr Cartlidge said: “I am delighted to confirm my acceptance of the challenge of a public debate.

“Since the referendum was called, I have been surprised at just how many people seem to be genuinely undecided.

“The votes of politicians count for no more than anyone else in the referendum but if we have a duty it is surely to expedite public debate so that people hear all sides of the argument.”

In last week’s Free Press Mr Cresswell questioned Mr Cartlidge’s reasons for backing the out campaign.

In response Mr Cartlidge said: “I do not usually respond to personal attacks as they cheapen politics, but in so historic a moment as this referendum, I think the public are particularly keen on seeing the issues debated rather than cynical cheap shots.

“Hence, I was rather disappointed that the chairman of the South Suffolk Labour Party called into question my motives for backing remain.

“To be absolutely clear, I believe in principle – and have done for many years, as I clearly stated at all the South Suffolk election hustings – that it is in Britain’s national interest to avoid the significant economic risk of leaving, and instead vote to remain so that we can make the most of our fantastic position of being in the EU but not in the Eurozone.”

Mrs Carpendale hopes the debate will help inform the local electorate.

“I’d like to think a debate would be more constructive than two sides throwing statistics about,” she said.

“I believe the reasons for staying ‘In’ are even greater than just jobs and the economy, important though they are.

“If the UK pulls out, we weaken the whole European structure – one that not only preserved peace in Europe for over 70 years, but developed relationships across 28 countries and 500 million people.

“We are hugely important to the rest of Europe and they are hugely important to us. There are cross-border challenges like refugees, terrorism, and climate change.”

The debate will be open to the public and questions to be put to the panel will be welcomed from local residents and businesses.

As part of the debate the Free Press is looking for a venue and for an independent chair.

If you are interested in chairing or holding the debate please contact the Free Press 01787 886904 or email ian.parker@suffolkfreepress.co.uk.