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One-off EU debate with key political parties to be held in Bristol

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Press release issued: 15 April 2014

With political tensions running high over the UK’s relationship with the European Union, candidates from the five key parties will go head-to-head in a one-off debate ahead of next month’s European elections.

Not only will the key players from across the political spectrum be arguing their party’s case, but the public will have the opportunity to pose questions and engage directly with the candidates at the special hustings event being held at the University of Bristol on 28 April.

Taking to the stage will be the leading local candidates from the parties who received the most votes in the last European Parliamentary elections in 2009 - Ashley Fox MEP (Conservatives); William Dartmouth MEP (UKIP); Sir Graham Watson MEP (Liberals); Clare Moody (Labour); Molly Cato (Greens).

It promises to be a hotly contested debate in light of the recent head-to-head between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage on Britain's future in Europe. Mr Clegg's Liberal Democrats are the most pro-EU of the main parties at Westminster, while Mr Farage's UKIP advocates withdrawing from the EU.

A poll of over 500 students at the University of Bristol has set the agenda for the debate, with three main topics emerging – free movement of people within the EU; the role of the UK in the EU; and economic affairs and austerity in the EU.

Dr Diego Acosta Arcarazo, a Lecturer in European Law, has organised the event and hopes it will help people to decide which party should win their vote at the European Parliamentary elections on 22 May, when six MEPs will be elected to represent the South West.

He said: “Our everyday lives are hugely impacted by the decisions made every day at a European level – whether it’s food, environment, agriculture, trade, customs, industry or work. These issues are at the forefront of people’s minds and, as we’ve seen in recent high profile debates between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, opinions vary widely.”

This is a unique opportunity to hear the views of key players across the political spectrum arguing their case, with the chance for the audience to pose questions and engage directly with the candidates.

The debate will be chaired by Professor Malcolm Evans OBE, one of the UK’s leading human rights experts and Chair of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture.

It begins with the candidates having a limited amount of time to discuss the three main topics, before it’s opened up to the audience for a Q&A section in the last 30.

‘European Parliament elections 2014: join the debate’ takes place in the Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RJ, on Monday 28 April from 6pm until 8pm. For further information, please see the website for the event.

Submit your questions in advance and follow the debate using the hashtag #EPH14 on Twitter.

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