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The EU Referendum

Should we stay or should we go? The arguments for and against ‘Brexit’ are reaching a climax as the potential game-changing European Union referendum approaches. Britain joined the then European Economic Community in 1973 and confirmed the decision to stay in through a referendum in 1975. But now the British electorate are once again faced with a decision: to remain in or leave the European Union.

What has led to Brexit and what are the likely legal, social and economic consequences of remaining or leaving? Join us for our EU Referendum Focus Day and find out more.

Caffe Society will be open all day serving hot and cold snacks and drinks. 

Thursday 16 June

12.00 noon - 1.00pm

A Brief History of Britain and the EU

Our Festival Focus Day will begin with an impartial and authoritative analysis by Financial Times journalist Tony Barber on the path to Brexit.

This session is chaired by Deborah Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of York.

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4.00pm - 5.00pm

Britain: Leave or Remain?

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson (Vote Leave) and former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper MP (Stronger In) will debate the key issues. The session will be chaired by Rachel Sylvester of The Times.

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Related links

Find out more about universities and the imact of the EU referendum at

2.00pm - 3.30pm

The Social, Legal and Business Consequences of Brexit

László Andor, former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, will deliver the keynote address. A distinguished panel will then debate the potential implications of a yes or no vote. Speakers include:

  • Matthew Elliott, Vote Leave Campaign
  • Ben Leatham, University of York Students' Union (YUSU)
  • Matt Matravers, University of York (Chair)
  • Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
  • Charlotte O’Brien, York Law School, University of York

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5.30pm - 7.00pm

Reforming the EU: Principles and Pathways

Richard Portes, Founder and President of the Centre for Economic Policy Research, will deliver the keynote address. This will be followed by a debate on how to effect meaningful reform. Speakers include:

  • Richard Corbett, MEP for Yorkshire and Humber
  • Simon Tilford, Centre for European Reform
  • Michal Horvath, University of York
  • Stephanie Flanders, JP Morgan

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