Over 300 pupils from the College and other local schools, together with parents and members of staff, packed Epsom College on Thursday 28th April evening for a high profile debate on the forthcoming EU referendum.
Putting the case for the stay campaign was The Rt Hon Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington. He was opposed by The Rt Hon Chris Grayling, Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell, Leader of the House of Commons and a leading Brexit supporter, who argued the case for leaving.
Before the speakers took the rostrum, Theology and Philosophy teacher and Crawfurd Housemistress, Helen Hynd, who chaired the debate, called for a show of hands that revealed that a majority in the audience was as yet undecided on which camp to support.
The two politicians then had 10 minutes each to present their case before taking questions from the floor. Tom Brake argued forcefully that the UK would be better off remaining in the European Union, claiming, amongst other things, that issues such as climate change could be better tackled from within.
For his part, Chris Grayling majored on assuaging fears that a Brexit may lead to severe economic consequences, noting that the UK’s biggest trading partner was not the EU, but the Commonwealth.
Amongst the many probing questions asked from the floor were: Would President Obama’s intervention, in which he supported the UK remaining in the EU, have an effect on the outcome; does the EU make us inefficient; would voting out destroy the UK; are we more secure together; and what would the future hold for young people if the UK were to vote to leave the EU?
Both speakers vigorously held their ground and each challenged the points made by the other in what became a passionate debate.