Question Time: 26/5/16

The show came from Ipswich and on the panel was Ed Miliband (Labour), David Davis (Conservatives), Caroline Lucas (Greens), Steve Hilton (former director of strategy for David Cameron) and Dreda Say Mitchell (crime writer)

Question one asked how public services could cope with immigration following figures released. Miliband said they would cope and that immigrants contribute to the British society and economy, citing that the Institute of Fiscal Studies have said that Britain would lose £20-40 billion pounds if it left the EU. Davis said that Britain has always welcomed migrants, but that the numbers are now being becoming unsustainable and putting pressure on public services, describing the situation as out of control and that the only way to regain control would be by leaving the EU. Lucas said that leaving the EU would result in a loss to the economy, but only the figure could be argued about; she also welcomed the ability to move freely within 28 different countries. Lucas added that public services could be funded to cope with added pressures from an increasing population. Hilton said that he is pro-immigration, but that there should be limits to keep the situation sustainable; he argued that free movement of EU members makes it more difficult for immigrants from non-EU states. When Hilton was challenged by Mitchell if he would have barred her parents (who she said were unskilled when they arrived), he said it would need to be discussed. Mitchell said that teachers are leaving schools and there has been cutbacks in the training of nurses, which has added pressure on their respective services. Davis said that the British government knows best what Britain needs, not a European commissioner. Miliband countered by saying that large issues could not be dealt with by Britain alone and it needs to remain in Europe. Hilton accused the Remain campaign of producing ridiculous arguments and statistics, which Lucas described as hypocritical. He agreed that Britain could not tackle issues by itself, but that this could be done in partnership, which is not the same as a union.

The second question asked if it would be worth an extra two years of austerity in return for leaving the EU. Davis said they were wrong and did no work to reach this conclusion. He argued that those who predicted this had failed to predict the financial crash in 2008, so doubted whether they could be trusted for accurate forecasts and predictions. Miliband argued that every respected economist has said that Britain will be worse off if it leaves Europe and that an additional two years of austerity would not be a price worth paying for leaving the EU. Lucas said that Britain needs to remain in Europe so that there would be jobs and protection for workers, focusing on the benefits for the young. Hilton said it is impossible to know what would happen if Britain leaves, but he acknowledges that there are risks if Britain were to leave before challenging the Remain campaign to acknowledge that there are risks in remaining in the EU. Davis said that after the initial hysteria of Britain leaving, European countries would look to trade with Britain. Lucas argued that Britain is more in need of Europe than Europe is for Britain with regards to trade. Miliband challenged Davis to say what country Britain would be like if it left the EU – Davis said Great Britian. Miliband said that there is no other country that has a trade agreement with Europe like that wanted by those campaigning to leave.

Dimbleby mentioned that there were also questions about if the debate over Europe was diminishing the standing of politicians and whether the Conservative Party would recover after the referendum on Europe. Davis agreed to some extent that the arguments over Europe are diminishing the standing of politicians. Hilton said that the Conservative Party would be able to recover after the referendum and that people are being turned off from politics by all the arguments. Mitchell says she has researched for herself instead of listening to arguments. Miliband said there has been too much negativity in the campaign.

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