Election 2017: Candidates appeal to young voters in debate at Ipswich’s Suffolk One

General Election debate at Suffolk One in Ipswich. Ben Gummer, Tony Gould, moderator Will Pierce, Sa

General Election debate at Suffolk One in Ipswich. Ben Gummer, Tony Gould, moderator Will Pierce, Sandy Martin, Adrian Hyyrykainen-Trett, and Regan Scott. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Candidates hoping to be elected as MP for Ipswich next month took the battle to some of the town’s youngest voters at an election hustings at Suffolk One sixth form college.

The 90-minute session covered subjects ranging from Brexit to the cost of going to university – via rail nationalisation, the future of Ipswich, and the strengths and weaknesses of the party leaders.

The future of the area after the Brexit vote was the first subject to be discussed by the candidates. Conservative Ben Gummer who is defending the seat – and is a member of Theresa May’s cabinet – said it was important that the Prime Minister had a strong mandate from the country when she was negotiating the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU.

While he had campaigned to remain in the EU, it was important to recognise the democratic will of the people and to secure the best deal.

He said: “We will be up against 27 other countries in these negotiations. We need someone strong like Theresa May to be leading our team.”

Labour candidate Sandy Martin is hoping to overturn Mr Gummer’s 3,733 majority – and like him had backed remain in last year’s referendum.

He said: “I don’t think it is a good idea to start negotiations by taking a hostile stance and alienating those we will be negotiating with.”

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Pressed on whether he supported his party leader, Mr Martin said: “Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party and I believe the Labour Party is the best party to represent the country in the negotiations.”

He said his party had a “collegiate” leadership – in comparison to the more presidential style of Mrs May.

Liberal Democrat Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett said there should be a second referendum to put the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU back to the public after they have been thrashed out by the government.

UKIP candidate Tony Gould did not want a second referendum – saying that the government should take Britain out of the EU as soon as possible.

Regan Scott, Green candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said his party was offering the voters a distinctive voice and would be trying to ensure society could work better for everyone – not just those at the top.

Will Pierce played the David Dimbleby role at the Question Time style debate. He helps run the debating society and is a teacher of economics and accounting at Suffolk One.

He said, “I think it (the debate) went well. All the candidates were willing to come in and speak to our students and this shows how much they value us. And the students were very engaged.

“Overall, we are keen to get political debate up and running as much as possible and with the general election coming up in made sense to invite the local political candidates into One, so that our students could find out a bit more about them. I’d like to thank everyone for getting involved.”