Fylde businesses called to referendum debate

The European Union flag and national flags in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
The European Union flag and national flags in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
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Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre business leaders will have the chance to grill Euro MPs about the UK’s future in the EU at a referendum question time.

With the Conservatives having pledged a vote by the end of 2017, three of Lancashire’s Euro MPs will go in front of an audience of the county’s businessmen and women to discuss the country’s role in the Union.

Conservative Sajjad Karim, Labour’s Theresa Griffin and UKIP’s Steven Woolfe will be answering questions during the two-hour event on Friday, September 18.

And organisers from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce (NWLCC) are expecting a big turnout from members at the free event, which will follow the format of the BBC’s Question Time.

It has been organised as part of the Chamber’s delivery of Europe Direct Lancashire, which aims to provide local citizens with information, advice and assistance for all matters relating to the European Union, shaped around local and regional priorities.

NWLCC chief executive Babs Murphy said: “The issue of Europe has become a real political hot potato and, with the Prime Minister’s pledge of a referendum, will no doubt continue to be. This event is a chance for our members to meet and speak to our MEPs up close and personal to get any answers they seek.

“Our free event is their chance to quiz the MEPs on how they see the relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe developing. And, importantly, how it will affect their business. With a cross-section of the parties represented on our panel, this could become quite heated and certainly promises to be a lively debate.

“We are grateful to our patron member Preston’s College for hosting the event, which promises to be lively and extremely interesting.”

Preston’s College principal and chief executive Lis Smith said: “The issue of the UK in Europe is one of massive importance and for us to play a role in the debate around it with three of our region’s MEPs and the business community is absolutely appropriate as we continue to develop as an Enterprising College for the region.”

Sajjad Karim said: “North West England is a dynamic force in the British and EU economy and our SMEs are the backbone. A European referendum provides a much-needed opportunity for an informed debate. ”

Theresa Griffin said: “For the UK, being part of the EU means that we are part of the world’s largest single market and have improved employment and consumer rights for citizens.”

Steven Woolfe said: “Increasingly, North West businesses are recognising that an outward-looking, global trading Britain does not depend on EU membership.”

To book call 01253 347063 or email chamberevents@lancschamber.co.uk