Students may be surprised to see Brexit overlooked at today’s Three-Party Debate, hosted by the Oxford Forum.
The debate will allow each student political part to debate the other two individually, and will focus on the current government, inheritance tax, and the fate of the Liberal Democrats.
Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) vetoed Brexit-related motions proposed by Oxford University Liberal Democrats (OULD) including “This House believes a People’s Vote is preferable to any Brexit Labour could offer” and “This House believes a general election is a better resolution to Brexit than a People’s Vote”.
OULC told Cherwell they submitted a counter-proposal “THB that Brexit is the most pressing issue facing this country” which OULD rejected, however OULD deny the claims they had vetoed the motion.
The Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) were also reluctant to debate Brexit, believing that students are “just very bored with talking about it”.
President of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats, Damayanti Chatterjee, expressed her disappointment that there would not be debate on the “biggest issue in British politics since the Second World War”.
Chatterjee told Cherwell: “My committee and I were in strong agreement that the best debate topic for our debate with OULC would be a motion on Brexit and a People’s Vote.
“However, I was informed that OULC would not debate any motion about a People’s Vote and then told by OULC Co-Chairs that the society would not debate a motion on Brexit at all. We are disappointed that OULC will not take a stance or defend their party policy and are concerned that they have cited any debate of Brexit between us as unfair.
“The Liberal Democrat and Labour policy on Brexit differ just as significantly as the Liberal Democrat and Conservative policy on Brexit, with the former supporting a second referendum wholeheartedly and the latter arguing to rule out no deal and for an incrementally closer union with Europe than May’s deal, delivered through a general election if Labour wins a majority in it.
“We still welcome the chance to debate with them at the Three Party Debate and will gladly take their suggestion of an allegedly fairer motion “This House Believes the Liberal Democrats are irrelevant” as an opportunity to do just that and as a better alternative to having no debate at all.”
Speaking to Cherwell Winter said: “It is not the case that OULC were reluctant to debate Brexit and although we rejected some Brexit based motions, we also proposed Brexit-related motions which were rejected by the other parties.
“The reason a motion on Brexit could not be agreed is that OUCA were reluctant to debate Brexit on the basis that they did not think students were interested in the topic. We offered a motion on ruling out a no-deal Brexit which OUCA rejected, and related motions on immigration which OUCA also rejected.
“The motions suggested by OULD, relating to Brexit, were not practical for this debate. They included a motion on the People’s Vote, a policy which is part of Labour’s current plan and supported by many OULC members, which it would not be appropriate to take a collective stance against as a club.”
“All in all, the event has been poorly organised, with parties expected to agree motions amongst themselves at the last moment, with little input from the Oxford Forum.”
Winter also alleged that the two other parties had rejected topics including fracking, tax, and education.
President of OUCA, James Beaumont told Cherwell: “While we were reluctant for a debate on fracking or the public sector pay gap, largely due to internal division on the issues, that is not the case for immigration. We discussed several wordings with OULC, but could not agree on an exact wording for the motion.
“We also proposed several others, including a broad debate about capitalism, and another about welfare reform, which were rejected. I believe that we have now agreed on ‘This House has no confidence in the Government’, which will of course cover many of the topics mentioned above.”