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Julian Smith MP announces speakers for EU debates

Julian Smith MP has announced the line-up of speakers at the two EU Information Events he will be hosting ahead of the EU Referendum on 23 June to provide information and facts to constituents in Skipton and Ripon. There will be a dedicated session on agriculture at the Skipton event with one of the leading academics in this area discussing the impact of Brexit on agriculture and farming.

The first event, which will be taking place on Thursday 26 May at 6.30pm for 7.00pm at the Ripon Spa Hotel, will hear from four distinguished speakers.

Hugo Dixon, a columnist and entrepreneur who features regularly in the New York Times, the Guardian, Reuters and the Financial Times, will argue the case for Remaining in the EU.  He is currently the Chairman and Editor in Chief of InFacts, a journalistic enterprise making the fact-based case for Britain to stay in the EU.

Dixon will be joined by former Skipton and Ripon MP, The Hon John Watson OBE, in the Remain Camp.  Since stepping down from Parliament in 1987, Watson has served as the Chief Executive of Bradford City Challenge, joined the Board of the Yorkshire Building Society and has Chaired Bradford Community NHS Trust.  He also represented the Boroughbridge division on North Yorkshire County Council between 2005 and 2013 and received an OBE in 2009 for service to Urban Regeneration.

Alan Halsall, a successful Yorkshire Businessman, entrepreneur and former Chairman of Silver Cross, will by making the case for Leave.  Halsall is currently the Co-Chairman of Business for Britain and sits on the board of Vote Leave, playing a crucial role in the direction of the campaign.

Alongside Alan Halsall, Toby Horton, Chairman of UKIP Thirsk and Malton, will argue the case for Leaving the EU.  Toby has been involved in politics for more than 20 years and has contested two General Elections in the Thirsk and Malton seat.  Horton previously served as aide to William Hague before defecting to UKIP in 2006.  He has described the EU Referendum as an extremely important vote that goes far beyond party politics.

The second debate will be taking place on Friday 3 June at 6.30pm for 7.00pm at the Pen-y-Ghent Hall at Craven College’s Aireville Campus.

Professor Wyn Grant, political scientist and Professor of politics at Warwick University, will address the audience before the main debate.  He has previously carried out significant work with the EU on the Common Agricultural Policy and at the event he will be presenting the findings of his report ‘Brexit: The Agricultural Perspective’ which examines the complexities and possible impact of Brexit on British Farmers.  There will be opportunity for questions following Professor Grant’s Presentation.

The main debate will see two current MPs tackle the question of whether Britain should remain in or leave the EU.

The Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke CH QC MP, who has had a distinguished career in Parliament serving in various British Cabinets as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Education Secretary, Health Secretary and Minister Without Portfolio, will argue the position of Remaining in the EU.

Clarke has long been a champion of the EU and is currently the President of the Conservative Europe Group, Co-President of the pro-EU body British Influence and Vice-President of the European Movement UK.

Up against Clarke will be Nigel Evans, Member of Parliament for Ribble Valley.  Evans has previously stood as First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.  Evans is a long-term Eurosceptic and has stated that he is confident jobs will not be threatened by a British exit from the EU.

Julian Smith MP said:

For both these EU events, I am pleased to have secured an excellent panel of experts who will all make a very strong case for what they believe in.  I hope that through passionate speeches, solid facts and a good debate the speakers will be able to help inform your decision ahead of the Referendum this summer.

The debates will cover a broad range of topics, from agriculture and farming, to business, jobs and the economy.  There will be opportunity to ask questions and I would encourage any constituents who have signed up to attend these free events, to email me with questions they would like to pose to our panellists, that way I can ensure that all areas of interest to our audiences are covered.

To register to attend either of the events, please visit or and


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