Students and staff at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) discussed the implications of Brexit at the latest Be The Change panel event held on campus yesterday.
The event was organised following a lively Q&A last week with Keir Starmer, Labour MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, where dozens of DMU students discussed many of the vital issues arising from Brexit.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard chaired the Be The Change panel, which also included six students and four members of DMU staff.
The discussion, which was held in the Leicester Castle Business School, covered Brexit-related topics ranging from the Customs Union to the Northern Ireland border.
The first issue to be discussed was possibly the most significant and it split the panel in half, with disagreement about whether a second Brexit referendum should be held.
Travis Yearwood, a fourth-year International Relations student, said that a second referendum would disregard the views of over half of the country and could enter ‘murky waters’. Bertha Ochieng, Professor of Integrated Health and Social Care at DMU, agreed that a second referendum would be a mistake.
However Kaushika Patel, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, suggested that due to the limited amount of information that was provided by the Leave Campaign, a second referendum might be the right thing to do now that the public can see how much of a challenge Brexit is likely to be.
Laura Toher-Hindle, a third-year Law and Criminal Justice LLB student, said: “I was upset about the result when it came in but I’m against a second referendum because we need to stay true to our democratic process. There will always be people against the result of a referendum so when do we stop?”
First-year Economics and Politics student Daniel Bewley proposed that a more informed second referendum could be held, but this time with a two-thirds majority required to overturn Brexit.
The discussion then moved on to consider the impact of Brexit on migration before Professor Alasdair Blair, Associate Dean Academic Business and Law, explained the Parliamentary process that will lead to leaving the European Union.
An audience member posed the question of whether both of the UK’s major political parties should work together to get the best possible deal from Brexit.
Whilst some members of the audience argued that both parties were too split internally and had policies that were too different to make it work, others believed that it would be in the best interests of the country for the Conservatives and Labour to work together on a Brexit deal.
When Professor Shellard asked the panel what kind of Britain we are likely to see after leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019 there was agreement that uncertainty was likely to reign.
Third-year Media and Communication student Will Measures said: “It’s very much an unknown right now. The worrying thing for me is that the UK seems to have a lack of control about the Brexit deal.”
Shayoni Basu, who studies Law, said: “We will have to get over it, deal with the hand we were dealt and move forward positively.”
The discussion finished on a positive note as Professor Shellard asked each panel member to give a practical suggestion about how to make the country more at ease after Brexit.
Daniel Bewley joked that only England winning the World Cup could unite the country, but Aneesha Latkan, a second-year Law student, said we need to focus on unity rather than division.
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Following the event, Travis Yearwood said: “This Be The Change event was important for me because it’s a moment where we can step forward into a much better dialogue.
“People from both sides of the political spectrum were talking openly and it was a nice calm and honest discussion, and that’s what’s needed if we’re going to make a success of Brexit.”
Laura Toher-Hindle said: “It’s been fantastic to be involved in this Be The Change event, I think it’s really important that students are given the opportunity to be involved in events like this about topical issues in our society.
“There was a lot of talk about misinformation and how people have not been informed about Brexit, so DMU offering opportunities like this where we can get involved, have our voices heard and tell the world what we think is fantastic. I feel very privileged to be part of an institution with such an innovative approach.”
Posted on Wednesday 14th March 2018