Kent Union back Brexit referendum on divorce bill

Kent Union have created a proposal supporting ‘a “People’s Vote” on the terms of the Brexit deal and being ‘in favour of Remain’.

The document was submitted by Stuart Lidbetter, Kent Union’s Vice-President for Education, on behalf of the Union.

The proposal, submitted on the Union’s ChangeIt Idea webpage, puts increasing pressure on the National Union of Students (NUS) to call for a second referendum and ‘encourage students to go out and vote in favour of the option which benefits students the most’.

The Union outlines several reasons for the proposal, one of them being: ‘a number of promises which were made by the official Leave Campaign (members of which are now very senior members of Government) have at best been made to have seemed ill-advised and absurd, or at worst outright lies.’

Voting on the proposal finished last week, with the Union securing 208 votes from students, which means the bill has now been implemented into Kent Union policy.

Brexit has been a contentious issue in Kent since the 2016 referendum, with 59% of the county having originally voted to ‘leave’ the European Union.

Calls for a second referendum on Brexit have been growing in recent months, with YouGov poll in July showing that more people supported a second referendum (42%) than those who do not (40%).

Gavin Elser, Chancellor of the University of Kent, described earlier this year how he had changed his mind ‘completely over the last two years of lies’, with the former BBC journalist in favour of ‘a truly fair, free, and informed vote’.

Opposition to the Union’s proposal has come from the UKIP society on campus, who claim that a second referendum is ‘simply unnecessary’.

‘While students should of course be able to campaign about the issues they choose, it is somewhat inappropriate for Kent Union (which is supposed to represent the entire student body) to take an official stance on what is a very divisive topic.’

‘If the Union were to take up an official stance on Brexit they would inevitably fail to fully represent a significant number of students on campus.’

Daniel Sydenham of the Conservative Society has also expressed his concerns about the proposal, labelling it as ‘just the latest in a long list of publicity stunts’.

‘The Union has no mandate to petition for a people’s vote. There was no mention of it in anyone’s election campaign.’

Both societies, along with the Liberty Union, have submitted a counter-proposal to Kent Union, calling on the Union not to campaign for a second referendum, which has not been approved by the Union at the time of writing.

On Saturday 20 October,

Kent Union took to the streets of London demanding a ‘People’s Vote’. The demonstration was the largest of its kind since the protest against the Iraq war in 2003.

President Aaron Thompson said: ‘ It was great to lead [the march] with my fellow officers at the front.’

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