Member' Day 2014
As TEAM members were welcomed into Mary Sumner House, Westminster, on a sunny June morning, a palpable buzz could be sensed. On 22nd May 2014, a European election had sent the shock waves through Westminster with Nigel Farage’s UKIP sweeping up 26.6% of the country’s votes, achieving 4 seats more than Labour, who came in second place. TEAMGlobal invited members and sixth-form students from all over the country to join them to hear an exemplary panel debate ferociously on this most topical of issues.
The debate was entitled “What are the implications for the UK of the results of the elections for the European Parliament?” First to speak was Dominic Brett, from the Office of the European Parliament in London. Dominic skilfully set the scene, producing a cross section analysis of turn-out and voting trends across Europe, comparing this recent election to 2009’s European elections. He brought everyone up to speed with the voting process across Europe and the upset caused to traditional parties by nationalist parties, particularly in France and the UK.
Next spoke Nick Hopkinson, member of the National Executive of the European Movement and Director of the Foreign Office’s Wilton Park Conference Centre (1987 – 2010), who outlined the implications which the elections might have on UK political parties in the run up to the 2015 general election. Nick, supported by a great deal of in-depth analysis and facts, presented his case that our future European membership would not only dominate the political spectrum next year but could be bad for business and investment in Britain.
Next to take to the stage was Robert Oxley, Campaign Director for Business for Britain, who identified what would need to change for it to be to the UK’s advantage to stay a member of the European Union. He vehemently argued that a renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s membership in the European Union could bring wealth, jobs and better access to capital markets.
Lastly we heard from Professor Stephen Haseler, Director of the Global Policy institute, who spoke on the implications of the recent elections on relations between the UK and our European overseas partners.
The floor was then given to the audience for a plenary session, chaired by Laurence Smy, which saw the speakers hammer out their concerns and hopes for the UK’s continued membership of the European Union. On behalf of all who were there on the day, we would like to thank all the speakers for giving up their time to debate such an intense and important matter.
Tea at The House of Lords
After a break for lunch, TEAM members met together just before three in Victoria Tower Gardens. The 63-strong group made their way into The House of Lords via Black Rod’s Garden Entrance and were welcomed by Tea, scones, cakes and sandwiches. As The Rt. Hon. Lord Watson of Richmond was introduced by TEAM’s chairman, Laurence Smy, quiet fell upon The Cholmondeley Room and Lord Watson began “I have just spoken to the German Ambassador…”
Those members who were there will recall the anecdote he then told and the grave urgency with which he viewed this European referendum and indeed other potential referenda. He expertly warned that our decision to hang a question mark over our future participation in The European Union would have adverse effects on our relations with both European and international partners.
After The Rt. Hon. Lord Watson finished speaking and was whisked away to a meeting with the Duke of Edinburgh, the room filled with debate and reflection of the day gone-by as attendees enjoyed their high tea and views across the Thames from the Cholmondeley terrace.
On behalf of all participants and attendees, we would like to thank Kevin Mcsharry, who masterfully organised this successful day and also to The Rt. Hon. Lord Watson, who invited us to The House of Lords.