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East Anglia’s politicians setting up a Big Tent to share their take on world

PUBLISHED: 10:58 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:50 28 August 2018

Last year's Big Tent Ideas Fest, organised by Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman was successful - and has now become an all-party event. Photo: Robert Hansard

Last year's Big Tent Ideas Fest, organised by Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman was successful - and has now become an all-party event. Photo: Robert Hansard

Robert Hansard

An all-party festival aimed at politicians and those with an interest in the way society is run is expected to attract visitors from across the region next month.

The Big Tent Festival is being held near Cambridge – featuring leading politicians from all the main parties as well as others associated with the political process.

Last year’s initial event was dubbed “Tory Glastonbury” when it was launched following Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance at the Somerset – but this time it has some very impressive backers from all sides. The festival is being co-chaired by former Labour minister Baroness Sally Morgan.

Both Stephen Fry, who grew up on Norfolk, and French president Emmanuel Macron have backed the festival which will take place on September 8 in the grounds of Babraham Hall near Cambridge.

President Macron said: “I am convinced that this Big Tent forum will make a significant contribution to the consideration of the big issues we jointly face.”

Mr Fry added: “At a time when so many of us are in despair at the state of our politics . . . it’s a joy to see some serious political thinkers and reformers from all parties and from none coming together to explore the real causes of the disillusionment that is sweeping our society.”

Last year a few hundred people attended the event but this year organisers hope to attract 2,000 – and have gathered an impressive line up of speakers to tempt people to buy a ticket.

It has also been decided the event should not be party political but instead invite discussion and ideas from across the whole spectrum.

Speakers this year will include ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, international development secretary Penny Mordaunt and leading Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb.

Mr Freeman said: “East Anglia is the powerhouse of British innovation with our world-leading research in science and technology. That’s why there is no better place to host the Big Tent Ideas Festival.

“The Big Tent is a place where people alienated by Brexit party politics can ask difficult questions and help forge a vision of Britain beyond Brexit. Come and join us and be part of it. Together, we can make a difference.”

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