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A chance to join the UK-in-EU debate in Spalding

April 18, 2016 4:18 PM
In Spalding Guardian
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

BEHIND THE HEADLINES: The UK in a Changing Europe Night

George Smid, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for South Holland and the Deepings at the 2015 general election.

George Smid, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for South Holland and the Deepings at the 2015 general election will be a member of the panel

A woman from Surfleet who lectures on employment law at Cambridge University is hoping to make the UK's prospects in or out of Europe crystal clear. Dr Amy Ludlow is bringing a "factual, knowledge-based and rational" discussion of the merits and pitfalls associated with the nation's membership of the European Union (EU) to Spalding next month.

At the same time as Government leaflets about the EU referendum on June 23 drop through people's letterboxes, Dr Ludlow is researching the experience of people from EU countries who have come to live and work in the UK.

The UK in a Changing Europe, an exploration of the challenges and opportunities faced by EU migrant workers in the UK, has presented Dr Ludlow with the chance to hold a debate on the nation's future in the EU at South Holland Centre, Spalding, on Monday, May 23, between 5pm and 7pm.

Dr Ludlow said: "As a lecturer in employment law, I wanted to look at the questions of what brings EU nationals to the UK, what are their experiences and what happens if migrant workers are denied their employment rights.

"Myself and Professor Christine Barnard of Cambridge University looked at 300,000 cases in the UK from 2010 to 2012 and out of these, we found about 1,500 cases where at least the person's name led us to believe that they might be an EU migrant worker.

"We then became interested in why people come to the UK, is it in fact for our benefits, a better life, higher earnings, a personal challenge or to escape from a repressive country?

"There was no evidence of people coming here for UK benefits and after going to farmers, food producers and bodies involved in engaging with migrant workers, we thought it was really important to have a discussion and forum where people can ask difficult questions about the EU."

Dr Ludlow herself was educated at St Norbert's Catholic Primary School, Spalding, Surfleet Primary School and Spalding High School, before going to study law at Trinity College, Cambridge, and Leuven University, Belgium.

"One of my biggest inspirations was Mariana Almasi who taught German for my A-level at Spalding High School," Dr Ludlow said.

"My interest in the EU started through Mariana and now I love teaching students from all over the world at Cambridge.

"I think it's really important to create space where people can come and understand each other, particularly migrants, as some of them are doing really important jobs.

"One of my frustrations is about the binary (two-sided) nature of how debates on the UK's relationship with the EU are run and we want to take seriously all sides of the debate, including British views."

The panel for the May 23 debate in Spalding, called What Does the EU Mean for Me? is expected to include Professor Barnard, chairman of EU law at Cambridge University and Dr Ludlow's associate in their project looking at the experiences of EU migrant workers in the UK.

Professor Barnard said: "I very much welcome the opportunity to speak at the event on May 23 as we are committed to offering independent, fact-based information about the EU to help people in south Lincolnshire decide which way to vote in the crucial referendum on June 23.

"Those wishing to know more, in advance of the panel event, should have a look at the UK in a Changing Europe website: http://ukandeu.ac.uk/"

Four days before the EU forum in Spalding, Dr Ludlow will be returing to Spalding High School where nearly 100 sixth form students will tell her their views on what EU membership means for the UK and the implications of a No vote in June's referendum.

Dr Ludlow said: "I'm the product of student mobility and I live in Cambridge, a city that's hugely international.

"But I also understand the sentiment in some parts of the community that the EU is a bureaucratic machine which the UK has no control over.

"It's one part of a complicated story about the UK's relationship with the EU which is why we're trying to move the debate beyond emotional, instinctive response towards some factual, knowledge-based rational decision making ahead of the UK/EU referendum on June 23."

Dr Amy Ludlow of Cambridge University has invited a panel of experts to answer questions from the South Holland community in Spalding on May 23.

As well as colleague Professor Catherine Barnard, Dr Ludlow's other guests will include Dr Angus Armstrong and Jonathan Portes, both of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, and Professor Simon Hicks from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Professor Hicks said: "With the campaigns to leave and remain in the EU making wild claims left, right and centre, it is often difficult to distinguish facts from hyperbole.

"With this in mind, the event on May 23 will try to bring expertise to the debate and help clarify what really is at stake in the June 23 referendum.

"I very much welcome the opportunity to be part of these activities and to help people form their own views on these difficult issues."

Meanwhile, Mr Portes said: "The EU referendum is one of the most important political events in my lifetime and that of most Britons.

"Therefore, it is vital that citizens are informed of the arguments on both sides.

"I am delighted to be part of the UK in a Changing Europe programme which provides accurate, objective and unbiased analysis to inform the debate and I look forward to this event in Spalding on May 23."

The other panellists will be Dr Lee Rotherham, who grew up in Gosberton Risegate and is an advisor to South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes, and George Smid, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in South Holland and the Deepings at last year's general election.