Should Britain stay in the EU?

25th November 2013

Alumni news

European membership was the subject of a lively Circles' debate which took place in the Holywell Music Room on 16 November.

  • Our alumni panel (L-R) Simon Milner, Michael Lake, John Dyson (Lord Dyson, also the Chair), Leigh Hopkins, Matt Firla-Cuchra and Simon Anholt. Wadham's Warden, Ken Macdonald QC (standing), introduced the speakers.

Chaired by Lord John Dyson (Classics, 1961), Master of the Rolls, our esteemed alumni panellists included Simon Anholt (Modern Languages, 1980); Simon Milner (History, 1985), UK Policy Director, Facebook; Matt Firla-Cuchra (Economics, 1993), Partner, Global Infrastructure & Projects Group, KPMG; Leigh Hopkins (Oriental Studies, 1986), Vice President - International M&A, Wal-Mart; and Michael Lake (Modern Languages, 1964), former EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation in South Africa.

The audience included alumni donors and their guests, Fellows and current students.

Deputy Director of Wadham’s Deveopment Office, Shona Nicholson summarised the debate: “The discussion was opened by Simon Anholt who urged the audience to think of the question within a global, and not just a European, context. This opinion was echoed by other panellists who said that it was better to make change from the inside, rather than being an outsider without a special relationship. While most of the panellists were in favour of Britain remaining part of the EU, it was Leigh Hopkins who bravely suggested that Britain would do better on its own, along the lines of how America works … that is on the days that it’s working, he added, mindful of the recent federal shutdown. At this point, Lord Dyson called for a show of hands from the audience about how they would vote on the issue. Overwhelmingly, it was to stay in the EU.”

Student Charlie Bishop (Law, 2012) commented that the education system really didn’t give students information about the role of the EU. This was reiterated by the panellists who commented that most of the media focus was on the negatives and not the positives of the association.

This is the third Circles' debate organised by the Development office, with previous topics of discussion including social mobility within the Oxford educational context (2011) and the Leveson Inquiry (2012). The next debate will be on Saturday 31 January 2015. 

These events, which include lunch in the Hall and a debate in the Holywell Music Room, aim to involve loyal donors of more than £1000 a year in the life and community of the College.