Event at Petroc in Barnstaple on Friday saw politicians discuss the upcoming EU referendum.
Politicians from across the political spectrum pulled together to back a vote to stay in Europe on Friday night at Petroc in Barnstaple.
MEP for the South West Molly Scott Cato and one of her predecessors, Sir Graham Watson – who now sits on the European Economic and Social Committee – discussed the upcoming EU referendum at a special meeting organised by former MP for North Devon Sir Nick Harvey.
North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones was unable to attend but sent a message of support, as did the North Devon Labour Party’s Mark Cann.
Sir Graham told an audience of around 70 why they believed being part of the EU means Britain is better off.
He said: “We could be about to make the biggest foreign policy blunder since King George III lost America.
“Leaving the EU would be hugely damaging to our economy but the main issue for me is that being a member since 1974 means we have had a huge influence on its development and it has provided huge opportunity for British citizens.”
Sir Graham said that he believed the referendum would be ‘tight’ because people don’t know how it works or what it does.
“People need to appreciate that the EU allows any one of us to travel, live, study, work or receive hospital treatment anywhere in Europe,” he said.
“It gives the same opportunity to other EU citizens, for example, Arsene Wenger.
“But it also keep us safe, not just in military terms but every day our police and judiciary work together with their European counterparts to tackle organised international crime.”
Ms Scott Cato said she had a slightly different perspective to Sir Graham, but underlined that her party is in favour of staying part of the EU.
She said: “We have ideas as Greens what the EU should look like; Graham has his and Labour and the Conservatives will have theirs.
“But the fact we all want to remain is a strong endorsement that it benefits us as a nation.”
She also said it was important to have a body like the EU to tackle issues like climate change.
“The most important environmental issues have to be dealt with by an organisation like the EU because mother nature doesn’t respect borders,” she said.
Statements from Mr Heaton-Jones and Mr Cann, which both supported staying in Europe, were then read out by Sir Harvey before the floor was opened to questions.
One question which provoked debate came from Stephanie Walters of North Devon Refugee Solidarity.
Responding to her question about the migrant and refugee crisis Ms Scott Cato said there was no easy answer but the EU was working to find one.
She said: “The fact is people want to come to our continent and country because it’s the best managed, safest and most prosperous part of the world - which is due to the EU.”