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5 May 2016

Julie Girling MEP visits King's

Last Friday we welcomed Julie Girling, MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, to argue for UK remaining in the EU. This was the second assembly on the subject of the EU referendum. Last term Dan Hannan, MEP for the South East, visited to convince us of the benefits of Brexit.

Addressing the whole school during assembly – as Daniel did – Julie explained that, while many of her colleagues in Brussels are arguing to leave, she feels we should remain and build upon our existing position within the EU.

Offering a balanced view, and acknowledging that the EU is not perfect, she argued we are in a unique position now. David Cameron’s negotiations safeguarded our economic independence, and removed the commitment to ever closer union. This allows us to enjoy the benefits of membership without many of the supposed disadvantages.

And trade is the main benefit. She explained that Europe’s 500 million consumers account for half our exports, and added that automotive, aeronautical and financial businesses across the South West will be affected adversely if we leave. Should we leave the EU, the situation for these business would be simple: pay, comply, but have no say. Julie gave the compelling example of Norway. It is the 14th highest contributor to the EU, but does not have a vote in key decisions.

She added that the EU brings consumers benefits too. Reductions in European car insurance, access to medical services via the EHIC card, and the fact that from next year punitive mobile roaming charges will be removed are good for us all.

It is not that she is unpatriotic. "I enjoy The Last Night at the Proms as much as the next person," she said. However, she pointed out that we are in a global market and trade is key. It is not about ‘Little England’, it is about the UK looking out into the larger world and positioning itself in the best place to prosper.

Following on from these two assemblies, there will be a school debate and mock referendum to allow students to air their views on this crucial moment in UK history.

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