Doctor Syed Kamall – one of the three Conservative MEPs for London – participated to a 1:11 Meeting at BN Magazine, where the principal focus of discussion seemed to be Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
The meeting started with Dr. Kamall delivering a talk about his personal upbringing from a working class family and his personal career’s development until his election to the European Parliament in 2005. He summarised the core of his activity in Parliament as centred on three key points, which have gathered considerable cross-party consensus: avoiding future government bailouts for banks, pushing for global accounting standards, and working on directors’ liability.
The questions from the audience successively touched various aspects of the relationship between the EU and Britain, including the outcome of an eventual EU membership referendum and the possibility to modify the terms of the current relationship with Europe. “Fundamentally it comes down to that we see the EU very differently”, Dr Kamall said. The so-called European project of political integration “is not what the British people voted for” in 1975. On the matter of a membership referendum he then affirmed “if there is a referendum tomorrow and nothing changes in our relationship, I’d vote to leave”. He also expressed pragmatism when asked whether the renegotiation of Britain’s relationship is likely to succeed. In particular, he outlined that much will depend on the outcome of the Prime Minister’s attempts of renegotiation and the result of the incoming General Election in 2015.
Successive questions also regarded the seemingly greater appeal of the Labour Party on immigrant communities. Dr Kamall explained that this factor could principally be explained by how the two main parties approached the issue of immigration in the twentieth century. He admitted that the Labour Party showed ingeniousness in engaging with community leaders at the local level, while the Conservative Party remained principally divided on the matter. In particular, he expressed his disapproval with the “immigrants take British jobs” argument and outlined that a hostile approach incurs the risk of stopping much needed skilled labourers from entering the country.
Additional discussion on the need for banking reform, particularly regarding the division between the retail and investment sectors of banks, also dominated the final moments of this 1:11 Meeting.