MP Heappey hosts Brexit debate

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 June 2016

James Heappey

James Heappey

Archant

Wells MP James Heappey hosted a lively debate last week ahead of next week’s EU referendum.

At the time of the debate, Mr Heappey had not revealed his voting position and remained an ‘impartial host.’

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw spoke on behalf of the Vote Remain campaign and businessman and campaigner Tim Hegarty was firmly in the Vote Leave camp.

Here are a couple of the issues which were debated:

Agriculture and tourism

A topic which presented itself early on was the bathing water in Burnham. It has been rated as poor thanks to stricter EU regulations, despite the water quality having not changed.

Mr Heappey said it ‘has caused angst in the town’.

Ben Bradshaw said: “The South West has had 20 per cent more visitors over the past year thanks to the EU and to leave would put that at risk. I am glad the EU has been beneficial to dealing with our sewage. It is important there are standards.”

However, Tim Hegarty said: “I got a visa in 1990 to stay in Berlin for two weeks and it was not a big deal. There is an incentive for people to come here without the EU. We are the British people and we have to stand up for us.”

The economy

The issue of trade was another controversial issue raised, posing questions about whether the UK – and therefore the South West – will be left behind on trade deals if the outcome is to leave the EU.

Mr Hegarty said: “The people who say we will be left behind cannot be trusted. We will make a British deal. “

Mr Bradshaw responded: “President Obama is right; we will be at the back of the queue in terms of trade if we leave the EU.”

Other issues included immigration, security and sovereignty.

Mr Heappey has since announced he will be voting for Britain to stay in the EU. He said: “No matter what I think of the EU, I just cannot turn a blind eye to the gaping hole in the case for leaving.

“We have not seen the economic vision. To avoid that whopping great leap into the unknown, I’ll be holding my nose and voting to remain.”

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