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Deal with EU issues from inside, says Vernon Coaker

By Margaret Canning

The Northern Ireland Science Park was the setting last night for a heated debate on the Brexit question.

The Belfast Telegraph was the media partner for the packed-out event, which was hosted by Quadriga Consulting and attended by businesspeople from across Northern Ireland.

Shadow Secretary of State Vernon Coaker and former Tory MEP John Stevens argued the case for staying in the EU.

But Labour MP Kate Hoey and former Secretary of State Owen Paterson maintained that Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK were better off outside the EU.

Speaking at a discussion before the debate began, Vernon Coaker said that while there may be problems with the EU, they should not be dealt with by walking away.

Conservative MP Owen Paterson said he was entering the debate after speaking to fishermen in Kilkeel - around half of whom were in favour of a Brexit.

Kate Hoey told delegates that the referendum was an important exercise in democracty and that "not a single person in the UK ever had a chance to vote to go into the market in 1973".

Since then, she said "treaty after treaty" had changed the single market so that the concept of a "social Europe" had been lost.

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