Overwhelming support for People’s Vote at Harrogate public debate 

Nearly 170 people came to NYfE’s public debate on Brexit in Harrogate last month – and they made their views clear: We believe the EU is a force for good and we don’t want Brexit!

As reported in the Harrogate Advertiser, snap votes called at the end of the debate, held at the Wesley Centre, showed strong opposition to the PM’s Brexit deal or No Deal – and overwhelming support for a People’s Vote. 

THE PANEL L-R  Judith Rogerson, Ian Greenberg, Linda McAvan (at lecturn),  Prof Colin Adams, John Watson, Andy Brown

Speakers Linda McAvan, Labour MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber; Judith Rogerson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Harrogate & Knaresborough and Andy Brown, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Skipton & Ripon all made strong arguments for the many benefits of EU membership.  All warned that any form of Brexit would have disastrous consequences for our economy, create further prolonged division and uncertainty – while depriving young people of their rights and freedoms.

However, some of the strongest contributions for the debate, chaired by Prof John Adams, were form members of the audience. They spoke passionately about what EU membership meant for them personally. One spoke movingly about the kindness and love shown to his dying parents by Eastern European carers – who were now being told they were no longer welcome here. Others spoke of the original aims behind the EU to prevent conflict between nations and its success in promoting peace, democracy, and human rights.

Judith Rogerson speaking at the debate

Harrogate & Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones was notable by his absence. He declined an invitation to attend made in December, saying he had another engagement and that it wasn’t his policy to speak at paid for events. NYfE then handed in a petition signed by 450 constituents urging him to reconsider – and offering to make it a free event if he changed his mind – to no avail. When we approached local Conservative Association asking if they could find another speaker, they declined saying that debating Brexit now was “neither helpful (n)or necessary.”

However we are grateful to John Watson, former Conservative MP for Skipton & Ripon, for accepting our request to participate as a speaker.  He said although he had voted Remain, the most sensible way of healing divisions and respecting the 2016 referendum would be to support the PM and get the best deal we could on future trading relations.

The fifth speaker was Ian Greenberg, UKIP’s Leeds branch chairman. He argued that the EU was a failing institution and that if the UK cut its ties it faced a bright future. However, he was booed and heckled when he compared the EU to Nazi Germany.

At the end of the debate NYfE chair Richard Sadler announced profits from ticket sales had raised a total of £526 for the Harrogate Homeless Project.