Confusion and internal division: Why Brexit won’t feature in today’s three-party debate

OULC co-chair described the Oxford Forum’s event as “poorly organised” 

Brexit will not be debated at todays Three-Party Debate

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.”

Speaking to Cherwell Tristan Wang said“There has been a reluctance on the part of the OULC on certain proposed motions relating to Brexit.
“As I understand it, the reason is because there is disagreement within Labour on the topic of Brexit.
“However, I am unable to understand how it can be claimed that discussion on Brexit was avoided. Anyone with reasonable knowledge of current affairs would know that it would be difficult to debate confidence in the government (OULC vs OUCA: “TH has no confidence in the Government”) or the relevance in the Liberal Democrats (OULC vs OULD: “THB that the Liberal Democrats are irrelevant”) without addressing Brexit. Those who attended the event can vouch that Brexit and the EU featured extensively in argument.”

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.”


  1. It is tragic to see the Oxford University Labour Club mimicking the prevarications of the party leadership on the issue of the people’s vote. Any Labour students interested in supporting a local organisation campaigning for a people’s vote with an option to remain should try the Oxford and the South-East Remain Labour Facebook page at

  2. I don’t have a clue what Winters is on about when he says that “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.”.

    It’s a blatant lie to suggest that the Labour party is in favour of a people’s vote on the final deal (Corbyn said shortly after the vote to trigger article 50 straight away and the 2017 manifesto called for an end to free movement), and the current position of the Labour party is just in favour of staying in the customs union, and favour of parliament *debating* it, but not in favour of having one (openly against the wishes of the members). Seems much more likely that Winters wanted to shut down the debate so his party couldn’t be critcised for it’s inconsistency; rather than trying to defend the Labour parties’ stance, no? I’m kind of confused at to why OUCA don’t want to debate it though- I’d thought that the student body would be on the whole interested to engage with them given that the bulk of OUCA is from what I can tell pro-Brexit.

    Given this, I say (as a remainer) don’t vote for Labour (and don’t vote for Fib Dems or Tories either given that their neoliberal economic policy is not just, moral or even good for the economy as a whole); vote for the Greens instead if you want an actual progressive party. If you vote tactically (i.e lie at the ballot box), you have only yourself to blame if you don’t get the policies you want (i.e get stuck with Brexit).


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