Political experts discuss Britain’s EU membership at Horndean debate

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POLITICAL experts have given their verdict over whether Britain should stay in the European Union.

The latest in a series of EU discussions put together by Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery took place in Horndean last night – and generated a lot of debate over the issue.

Experts for and against Britain retaining its membership led the panel with Mr Hollingbery. They included Richard Ashworth, MEP for the South East; Martin Howe QC, a specialist European lawyer; Pawel Swidlicki from the Open Europe think tank and Polish Ambassador to the UK Witold Sobków.

Horndean Technology College was packed as hundreds of people came to listen to their views.

Mr Ashworth said the cost of the UK’s membership of the EU amounted to £6bn, though it was said the figure rose to £8bn when taking into account cash given to overseas developments.

In support of Britain’s EU membership, Mr Ashworth said: ‘We have achieved an economic miracle in this country (since we voted to join the EU in 1973), because we are now the fifth-largest economy on earth. I say that to highlight the benefit we have had from our membership.’

Mr Sobkow said the importance of Britain remaining in the EU was about more than figures – and leaving would be a ‘huge loss’ to Europe.

He said: ‘In terms of the EU from the point of view of Brexit, the losses would be huge, the benefits are almost none.

‘Britain is a special member of the EU, it has a lot of influence and it has a special economic philosophy that is very close to our Polish philosophy.’

But it was also said one advantage of leaving would include being free of ‘EU tariffs’ which favour certain member states and not others.

There was also concern about how EU laws are too invasive and go beyond just trade agreements.

The evening followed a previous event in Botley. Those in attendance have included lawyers, politicians and think tank experts.