The public are being given the opportunity to quiz a panel of politicians and business leaders on the European Union referendum this week, including Indian-born West Midlands MEP, Neena Gill and national board member of Vote Leave, Saqib Bhatti.
Birmingham City University is hosting ‘The Future of Europe’ debate on Thursday (March 26) which will feature panel speakers from both sides of the discussion, who will address key issues and take questions from the audience.
Alongside Ms Gill and Mr Bhatti, the event also features renowned economist Vicky Pryce, UKIP MEP James Carver, Africans for Britain President Jonathan Barcena and former Conservative MEP Philip Bushill-Matthews. The debate will be chaired by international journalist Frances Robinson.
Each panel member will be given the opportunity to put forward their case before members of the audience have to the chance to ask their questions.
The debate will address the potential impact of leaving the European Union on the West Midlands, as well as nationally. The EU referendum is set to take place on Thursday 23 June with politicians and business leaders divided.
Saquib Bhatti, Vote Leave, said:
“I want Britain to Vote Leave because for me the European Union is a hangover from the 1950s which is unfit for 21st Century Britain. We are a global nation and we should have the versatility and flexibility to build relationships around the world as we see fit and not be shackled to a declining undemocratic trading bloc which is cumbersome and slow to respond to modern day challenges.”
As well as his role in Vote Leave, Mr Bhatti is also Secretary General of Muslims for Britain, a national cross party group that was set up to engage British Muslims in the EU referendum debate and who are actively campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union.
“On 23rd June we have the opportunity to redefine our relationship with the European Union, still engage with them and deal with them but also to look outwards to opportunities across the world.
“What this means for us on a daily basis is that we can come out of a political structure where we have to compete with 27 other states all vying for their own national interest, and instead start having our politicians only being accountable to us and looking at opportunities to spur growth in our region, invest in our infrastructure and create jobs and long term prosperity.”
Mr Bhatti is a chartered accountant and a Director at Younis Bhatti & Co. Limited, catering for the small to medium enterprise market. He sits on a number of key and strategic boards around the City of Birmingham.
The debate, which takes place at the University’s Curzon building this evening between 6.15pm and 8.00pm, comes after figures last week revealed almost half of university students in Birmingham didn’t know when the EU referendum was taking place.
Neena Gill, West Midlands MEP, said:
“Young people will be amongst those most affected if we leave the EU but they are also the least likely to vote. That is why I am really looking forward to speaking at BCU’s future of Europe event – I hope it will encourage younger voters to go to the polling station on June 23rd.
“This is the most important political decision that many of us will ever make – and I will be there to ensure that everyone has the clear information they need so they don’t get lost in fearmongering stories and distorted facts
“Here in the West Midlands we receive millions of pounds in EU funding to help regenerate our towns and cities, support local businesses and allow universities to carry out cutting-edge research.
“Our EU membership makes it easier to travel, work and study across Europe by guaranteeing that you have rights, like guaranteed annual leave and healthcare, in every EU country. The UK is stronger, safer and better off as part of the EU.”
Before entering politics, Neena spent over 18 years working in social housing in a variety of inner-city areas across the UK to tackle issues of social deprivation and homelessness – including setting up the country’s first Asian only sheltered accommodation. Nina was born in Ludhiana, India.
For more information and to book free tickets visit: www.bcu.ac.uk/futureofeurope