Twickenham MP candidates offer contrasting opinions on Brexit negotiations
The 2017 General Election is just around the corner and with Twickenham being one of the key seats, candidates for the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats visited St Mary’s University to talk to students and staff.
As expected, Brexit was high on the agenda of both the candidates and audience, with one of those in attendance bringing up the issue of the possible loss of the Common Travel Area in the UK and Ireland, dating back to the 1920s.
Dr. Tania Mathias (Conservatives), current MP for Twickenham, reassured the audience that the issue is of uppermost importance for the government.
“You will see that the previous Secretary of State for Northern Ireland addressed this,” she said.
“The current one did and Theresa May has put that in the 12-point plan. It’s interestingly that the Common Travel Area is there just as the United Kingdom is.
“The other thing is, that you rightly point out, the Common Travel Area predates the EU.”
Sir Vince Cable, who is looking to reclaim his seat for the Liberal Democrats having narrowly lost to Dr. Mathias in 2015, warned that the effects on Ireland could be one of the most disastrous consequences of a hard Brexit.
He said: “One of two things can happen. One is that there will be a wall created around Northern Ireland, totally destroying decades of progress on the Peace Agreement.
“The other is that actually the wall is created this side of the Irish Sea and so British people traveling to Northern Ireland will have to carry passports to prove their identity. Both of these are completely unacceptable.”
Dr. Katherine Dunne of Labour, who is participating in her first general election, was also adamant that Brexit will not have any negative impact to Ireland.
She said: “In terms of Ireland and the border, there can be no return to a hard border there.
“Not only because it affects the people who cross that border every day to access work or education, but also because it puts the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement at risk and we can have no return to that.”
While all three candidates committed to leaving the EU, both Sir Vince and Dr. Dunne had harsh words on the current position of the government in the Brexit negotiations.
Sir Vince said: “We believe the government is pushing a hard, UKIP-style Brexit taking us out of the single market, out of the Customs Union and we didn’t think this was mandated by the referendum.”
Dr. Dunne added: “We are heading towards a hard Brexit, a reckless Brexit.
“Labour will start again with Brexit negotiations. We are pro-European, we want to remain close to Europe and have a respectful relationship with Europe.”
However, Dr. Mathias, despite admitting going through with Brexit is a challenge, believes Theresa May is the one to lead the negotiations.
She said: “I have worked with Theresa May and I do believe I want her to be leading negotiations. I want her to be in charge of security. I want her to be in charge of the economy.”
Don’t forget to have your say on the future of the country by voting in the general election on June 8.
You can watch the full Hustings event hosted by SMSU below: