Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins was invited to St Mary’s High School in Chesterfield as part of a series of talks at the school to discuss the forthcoming EU referendum.
Sixth-formers, many of whom will be first-time voters when the crunch vote takes place on the 23rd June, engaged Mr Perkins in an energetic discussion to test the arguments for reforming the EU from the inside versus Brexit.
Mr Perkins told the students that whilst he felt the EU ‘isn’t perfect’, Britain’s future is best served by shaping the EU from the inside rather than risking jobs and growth by pulling out.
Almost half of all UK exports go to the EU with global firms, such as Toyota and Rolls Royce, locating their European operations in Derbyshire to give them access to the single market. If Britain left the EU, UK-based firms could be hit by hefty tariffs and restrictions.
At the end of the session, a show of hands from the young people showed a majority want to stay in the EU.
Commenting on the robust discussion, Mr Perkins said: “I was grateful to be invited to St Mary’s to talk about this crucial vote.
“So many of the 21st-century challenges we face, such as climate change, cybercrime and terrorism, are best dealt with by working with our partners in Europe. That’s aside from more than 4 million British jobs that are dependent on being able to sell half of our exports to EU countries.”
St Mary’s pupil Harry Smith, who will turn 18 just in time to cast his vote, said: “This referendum is really important because a lot is at stake. It’s important that young people have their say because so much of our futures depends on the outcome.”